A good news for everyone celebrating Thaipusam festival in 2021 is that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has declared holiday on Thaipusam festival, which is celebrated in the honour of Lord Murugan. Thaipusam, an eye-catching annual Hindu festival, falls generally between mid-January to mid-February. This year, Thaipusam will be celebrated on 8 February 2021 in India. According to legends, the month of Thai presented in the Hindu calendar is highly auspicious. The stories say that it was in this month that Lord Murugan, or Pusam as he’s generally called, taught the meaning of the word “Aum” to his father, Lord Shiva. Pusam is also known as Lord Subramaniam, while the word “Aum” is highly significant in Hindu culture. It is said that the Aum signifies the primeval word of creation, and was also a turning point when a student transformed into a teacher.
The Legends behind the Celebration
According to mythological sources, when Devas (angels or demi-gods) were overwhelmed by the demon Tarakasur, they prayed to Lord Shiva, who sent them a savior in the form of Lord Murugan. Also known as Lord Karthikeya, he led the Devas in war and defeated the demonic forces. Along with these heroic exploits, as mentioned above, he also taught his father the meaning of “Aum.” In a way, Thaipusam is celebrated to honor the exploits of the Lord Murugan through his acts that vanquished evil and brought in light, learning, and knowledge to mankind.
Thaipusam, as a festival, is customarily celebrated when the moon reaches its zenith position in the sky. In almost all the celebrations, the full moon, or the days of Poornima, is when people flock in droves to celebrate this festival. It is celebrated majorly by Tamil speaking Hindus across the world in India, Malaysia, Thailand, and more. Even countries like Guadeloupe, Suriname, Jamaica, Guyana, Tobago, and parts of the Caribbean have a vast population of Tamils, and the Thaipusam festival is brought in with a lot of gusto and fanfare.
One of the main ceremonies of the Thaipusam festival is Kavadi Attam or the ceremonial self-sacrifice dance, which is a wonder to look at. Interpreted in different ways in various geographies, the Kavadi Attam, as the name suggests, is one of self-sacrifice, although ceremonial. Being one of the major rituals of the Thaipusam festival, the name is derived from “Kavadi,” which means “Burden.” The devotees perform this ceremonial dance to transfer all their burdens and difficulties on to the lap of God. Believers also hold the notion that if one does this ritual during the festival, all demonic forces within you would be expelled. However, those who wish to participate in this dance have to pray and fast regularly until a couple of days before the festival begins.
Devotees believe that one should do this before the celebration, as it’s necessary to be cleansed of all evil before facing Lord Murugan. This event is the celebration where you will see believers show their faith by piercing their bodies and faces with metal screws. After the piercing ceremony, they pick up the Kavadi and travel barefoot for four kilometers to receive the Lord’s blessings.
Attractions and Religious Activities
If you are visiting any of the countries celebrating Thaipusam 2021, then you will be treated to several spectacular religious activities. In India, Thaipusam will be celebrated in all the Lord Murugan temples but the Arulmigu Dhandayuthapani Swamy Temple, located in Palani, Tamil Nadu will be the center of all the festivities. The festivities begin early in the morning with ceremonial bathing of the Lord Murugan statue. A long procession follows with the more faithful carrying the Kavadi to atone for their sins. According to a myth, most of the old Hindu temples would be built atop high ridges and mountains, and access was provided only when the devotees passed specific ‘tests’ of resolve.
Another unique practice that one can see during the Thaipusam 2021 would be the extreme resolve and “mind over matter” attitude of the participants. While meals consist of only fruits and milk, the processions will see devotees piercing their bodies with sharp spears and hooks. Some will dance with these pierced spears while singing “Vel Vel Murugan”, while the belief is that a spear was fashioned by the Lord Murugan to fend off evil from mankind.
You will also see people cracking coconuts on the streets that are considered an auspicious event by most Hindus. In some parts of South-East Asia and almost all of India, the breaking of the coconut symbolizes humility. You might even see some Caucasians celebrating as well to fulfill their vows.
Getting to the Places of Celebration
Thaipusam is celebrated in many places in South India but in the state of Tamil Nadu, it’s considered a major festival. Devotees from around the world flock to the Temple of Palani in Tamil Nadu during Thaipusam, and the best way to reach here is by road. You can experience the happiness and activities of Thaipusam 2020 like never before with redBus. With an extensive collection of travel options along so many different routes, you are sure to have a hassle-free time booking bus online on redBus during the Thaipusam festival.
You can share your experience with the redBus customer service, who will solve all your travel issues and make sure you travel safely and comfortably. With several discount vouchers and coupons distributed during the time of the festival, one can book a ticket to many of the Lord Murugan temples in Tamil Nadu and South India with redBus.