The Thaipoosam festival is fast approaching, and the first thing that comes to mind when someone this of it is the crowd, the Pathayatira, Kavadis, and the milk pots. But there are many other exciting things about this festival that many people do not know. Here, you will get to know exactly that—some of the exciting and rare facts of the Thaipoosam festival and its tradition. 

Significance Of  Thaipoosam

The festival celebrates the victory of Lord Murugan over Soorapadman, a demon. As per legend, on this day, Goddess Parvati bestows Lord Murugan with a mighty spear, Vel, to end the demon’s tyranny. Soorapadman had become so powerful that the Devas had to seek the help of Lord Shiva to annihilate him. Lord Shiva gives birth to Lord Murugan, who eventually gets rid of the demon using his divine powers. Lord Muruga restored dharma and peace. Hence, we celebrate Thaipusam to get rid of all the troubles on that day. 

Another story is that Thaipusam is the day of the Birth of Lord Murugan. Irrespective of what it signifies, it is an auspicious day across the globe for his ardent devotees. 

Celebrations to worship Lord Murugan

Lord Murugan, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is among the most worshipped Gods in South India. Tamils in countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, and Tamils residing in various parts of the globe celebrate this. He has many names like Karthikeyan, Subramanian, Kumaran, Shanmugam, Balan, etc. His devotees believe in the verse ‘Yam Iruka Bayamen’, asking why you fear when I’m there for you. It is how millions of His believers get through various challenges in their lives. 

People who worship HIM believe that he dispenses galore and hence to please the Lord, they take vows and do penance and prayers to get their wishes granted. 

The most interesting aspect is Hindus in India and Tibet, Japa, Bhutan, and China Buddhists worship Lord Murugan. He is called the Wei Tuo Pu Sa and among the many followers was the Lord Buddha himself. Buddha worshipped Lord Muruga in his early years and when he spread Buddhism to other countries, the practice of Lord Balan’s worship continued. The testimony to this fact is that there is the shrine of Wei Tuo Pu Sa in all Buddha temples at the entrance and devotees unknowingly pay their respects to the Lord. 

It is a National Holiday in many countries

People celebrate it with great devotion and fanfare in Tamil Nadu and parts of Kerala; still it is marked by many Hindu and Non-Hindu countries with as much devotion. On the Full Moon day in the Thai month, which coincides with Makara Month, the festival is declared a National holiday in countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore. In various parts of Mauritius and Sri Lanka, it is a bank and a government holiday which shows the significance of Thaipusam to the people. The most interesting aspect of this festival is that the celebrations of the Thaipusam in Batu Caves, Malaysia, are one of the world’s largest. It attracts thousands of visitors every year!

Faint-hearted beware

The Kavadi or the burden is one of the essential features of this festival. The word Kavadi means sacrifice and it looks and feels like it at every step. Men usually carry these large structures on their bodies. It is made of wooden or steel frames and weights around 40 kgs and reaches a height of 4 meters or more. These are decorated with flowers, peacock features, and other accessories. The devotees carry these on the hips or shoulders through the length of the procession. Some even pierce their bodies with hooks or skewers and attach themselves to these structures. Many devotees also pierce their tongues and bind themselves to the Kavadi. While it looks gruesome to the viewers, they appear calm and composed, mainly due to their adoration to the Lord. Women left behind also get their bodies pierced and carry Paal Kudam or milk pots on their heads. 

Places to visit during Thaipoosam

Many festivals in South India celebrate this, but some places are more popular due to the grand procession and the offerings. Some of the prominent places in South India are Thiruchendoor Subramaniya Swami Temple, Thiruparankundram, Subramaniya Swami Temple Thiruthani, Maruthamalai Murugan Temple, Coimbatore, Kalugumalai Murugan temple, Thoothukudi, to name a few. Famous places overseas are the Sri Srinivasa Temple, Singapore, Kataragama Temple, Sri Lanka, Batu cave Murugan Temple, Kuala Lumpur, and Sri Murugan Temple, Manor Park, London. 

Thaipoosam is among the festivals about dedication, determination, and perseverance. While many look upon the offerings as cruelty, it symbolises that the body is mortal and the soul immortal and merges with the Almighty. Therefore, it is a way to pay respect and gratitude to everything bestowed upon us.