Thaipusam- A Major Festival of Tamil Community (24th January 2017)
PoosamNakshathram begins on 23rd January 2014 at 20:07 and ends on 24th January 2016 at 20:40.
Thaipusam, also known as Thai Poosam is the most celebrated festival of Tamil community which is celebrated in the month of Thai, which corresponds with the months of January-February of the Hindu calendar. The name ‘Thaipusam’ is the combination of two words, i.e., ‘thai’ meaning the name of the month in which the festival is celebrated and ‘pusam’ meaning the name of the star. It is believed that in the duration of this festival, the star named pusam is on its highest point.
Reasons to Celebrate
There are three major reasons as to why people celebrate this festival. Firstly, according to a legend, it is believed that on this day Parvati gave a special Vel, also known as a “spear” to Lord Murugan. The aim was to kill a demon named Surapadman who was creating havoc in the complete universe. Secondly, on this day people thank Murugan for answering their prayers, devotees believe that if they ask for anything from the Lord, he bestows it upon them as soon as possible. Thus they show their gratitude and seek for his further blessings. Thirdly, devotees look at the festival as a way to attain penance for their previous mistakes. People undergo a series of painful rituals to seek forgiveness for their sins and believe that their lives start with a new meaning and a direction after cleansing their accounts of bad deeds.
Though many people consider this day also as the birthday of Murugan but this is just a misconception as his birthday is celebrated in as VaikasiVisakam, in the month of Vaikasi (May-June according to the Gregorian calendar).
People get up early in the morning and take ritualistic bath while chanting prayers and hymns dedicated to the God. They then make offerings of flowers and fruits to Murugan. These offerings should be specifically of yellow or orange color as they are believed to be his favorite ones. He is also dressed up in the clothes of the same colors. Devotees also get their body pierced and hang iron rods in the same. This way they seek forgiveness from the lord. People walk on a long pathway of burning coals with the same thoughts in their mind.
Carrying Kavadi is also a part of the ritual. Devotees first observe a fast of 48 hours, prior to the festival. They then carry huge structures of bamboos or wood, known as Kavadi on their shoulders. These structures are beautifully decorated with feathers of peacock. Kavadi can be filled with milk and water which the devotees offer to the Lord. This ritual is known as KavadiAttam, also known as the Burden dance as people carry physical burden with the help of Murugan and cleanse themselves of any spiritual mistakes.
Devotees performing this task should perform number of rituals prior to it. They need to observe celibacy and think only about God. They can only consume Satvik food and clean their mind, heart and body off any negative influences. They also get their head shaved and might also carry a small pot of milk but hanging it through hooks against their cheeks or tongue. Most devotees enter a trance like state and are unable to feel pain. They dance as if possessed by higher supernatural power and chant ‘velvelSakthivel”.