This year we celebrate Thaipusam on 08 February 2020, Thaipusam, a grand festival dedicated to the Hindu god Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvati. Murugan is also known as Kartikeya, Subramaniam, Sanmukha, Shadanana, Skanda, and Guha. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati presented a lance to Lord Murugan to help him vanquish the demon army of Tarakasura and combat their evil deeds. Therefore, Thaipusam serves as a celebration of the victory of good over evil.
The colorful festival is celebrated during the month of January or February, and this year we celebrate this festival on the 21th of January. Thaipusam is celebrated by the Tamil speaking community, and some states where it is commonly witnessed are Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andra Pradesh, but in Kerala, the festival is referred to as Thaipooyam.
The celebrated marked for Karthikeya is has also transcended international boundaries. Countries like Malaysia, South Africa, and Sri Lanka also celebrate this festival.
Significance of Thaipusam
The Vel received by Lord Murugan from his Mother is a symbol of purification. According to the legend, the Vel was given to Lord Murugan to eliminate three demons Surapadman, Singamugan, and Tarakasura. They represent the forces of hatred, greed, and arrogance. The Vel, a symbol of light and wisdom was used by Lord Murugan to kill the three asuras and bring peace to the Heaven and Earth. The Vel is the protecting and purifying force of Lord Murugan, and Thaipusam is a celebration of these forces. It is a time to seek Lord Murugan’s blessing to lessen the burden of bad karmas from wrongdoings and to make life more positive. Thaipusam is a festival that is marked by acts of penance such as carrying the ‘Kavadi.’ Carrying kavadi is a practice of penance. “Kavadi” is a simple structure that consists of a straight horizontal branch of a tree with two pots of milk tied at either end and decorated with a wooden arch, flowers and peacock’s feathers.
Body Piercing on Thaipusam
Many fanatical devotees go to such extent as to torture their bodies to appease the Lord Murugan. So, a major feature of Thaipusam celebrations may be body piercing with hooks, skewers and small lances called vel. Many of these devotees even pull chariots and heavy objects with hooks attached to their bodies. Many others pierce their tongues and cheeks to impede speech and thereby attain full concentration on the Lord. Most devotees enter into a trance during such piercing, due to the incessant drumming and chanting of “vel vel shakti vel.”