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Thaipusam 2024 in Singapore: Where to See the 4 Km Foot Procession of Devotees with Skin Piercings

Thaipusam 2024
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The Hindu festival Thaipusam is celebrated in Singapore on Thursday 25 January 2024. Devotees pierce their skin with skewers and kavadis and walk along a 4 km foot procession aided by the sound of live music from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple

The Hindu festival of Thaipusam in 2024 will be on Thursday 25 January 2024 in Little India, Singapore. Thaipusam, the Hindu thanksgiving festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the Tamil month of Thai. The 2024 Thaipusam festival will see more live music stations as two more spots have been added bringing the total to five live music stations along the 4 km walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at Serangoon Road to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road. If you wish to catch a glimpse of this amazing 2024 Thaipusam festival where devotees carry kavadis spiked through their skin, here’s what you need to know.

What is Thaipusam?

guide to thaipusam 2024 in singapore a father son and woman in the foot procession

Thaipusam is a sacred Tamil thanksgiving festival involving asceticism and control over one’s senses. According to Tamil folklore, Thaipusam and the foot procession are celebrated in honour of Lord Murugan (also known as Lord Subrahmanya), who represents virtue, youth and power, and is the destroyer of evil.

When is Thaipusam celebrated?

guide to thaipusam 2024 in singapore

Thaipusam or Thaipoosam is a festival celebrated by the Hindu Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai around January/February. In 2024, Thaipusam will be held on 25 January 2024.

Is Thaipusam a public holiday in Singapore?

Thaipusam is a national holiday in many countries but it is no longer a public holiday in Singapore.

Where to see 2024 Thaipusam in Singapore: Serangoon Road to Tank Road

Thaipusam in Singapore usually attracts thousands of Hindu devotees who fulfil their vows over a 4km walk from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at Serangoon Road to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road carrying either a paal kudam (milk pot) or kavadi (wooden or metal structure with milk offerings). In keeping with an old tradition that was revived in 2016, musicians line the procession route, a wonderful addition to the already festive atmosphere.

The Thaipusam procession is expected to start at 11.30pm on 24 January, when the first batch of devotees will start their journey to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road. If you wish to catch a glimpse of this amazing festival you can try station yourself along this 4km route or head to Little India (along Serangoon Road) on Friday 25 January as early in the morning as possible.

5 live music points for Thaipusam 2024

Two new live music stations – located in Clemenceau Avenue and opposite Selegie Centre – will be added to the three stations in Hastings Road, Short Street and Cathay Green. Musicians engaged by kavadi bearers to sing bhajans – religious songs – can play at these stations. Traditional temple musicians will play for kavadis in Hastings Road and Short Street from 7am to noon, and from 4pm to 10pm on 25 January 2024.

How is Thaipusam celebrated?

Thaipusam 2024 Singapore Eve Chariot
The famous chariot procession on Thaipusam Eve

The arrival of devotees habitually starts with prayers, and around midnight, the first group of devotees carrying pots of milk and kavadis (semi-circular metal structures decorated with peacock feathers, flowers and palm leaves), leave for the journey from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple back to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.

The word kavadi translates to “sacrifice at every step”, while the milk offering symbolises the cleansing of the mind and soul; devotees who pierce their tongues or carry a spiked kavadi are believed to only be able to undertake this sacred task without feeling any pain when they have freed their body and mind from material and physical wants.

guide to thaipusam 2024 in singapore kavadi

In fact, in order to carry a kavadi, a devotee has to prepare himself spiritually and live a life of abstinence (including a strict vegetarian diet) for at least a month. While it is quite an amazing sight to watch devotees carrying kavadis, this is a sacred religious act, so visitors are requested to be respectful and not distract the focus of the devotees.

Another highlight of Thaipusam is usually the beautiful live Indian music, set up along the 4km route (covering Hastings Road, Short Street and Dhoby Ghaut Green). Devotees believe music is useful in reducing pain and enhancing their spiritual focus throughout their journey. Bhajan (devotional hymns) singers may accompany kavadis throughout the route, and musicians are usually allowed one traditional percussion instrument and one handheld instrument.

2024 thaipusam procession in singapore

Info for devotees: Offerings can be your own or prepared by the Tank Road temple

Thaipusam procession will start from SSPT on: 24th January 2024 from 11:30pm
Thaipusam  prayers will begin at STT on: 25th January 2024 from 12:01am
Spike / Chariot Kavadis to leave SSPT by: 25th January 2024 by 12pm (Noon)
Spike / Chariot Kavadis (PM) to leave SSPT by: 25th January 2024 by 5pm
Paalkudam devotees to leave SSPT by: 25th January 2024 by 5pm
All Thaipusam devotees have to reach STT by: 25th January 2024 by 11pm

Devotees can now choose to prepare their own offerings of paal kudam ($20) or pick up offerings ($info here) prepared by the Tank Road temple.

Head shaving is one of the important Thaipusam rituals and a symbol of purification. Devotees often shave their heads as an offering to Lord Murugan, and take a ritual bath before proceeding to the temple. Head shaving is done at the temple.

Please do note that if you are heading down to check out this amazing Thaipusam spiritual festival please do observe and take photos from a distance and with respect for the devotees.

For more up-to-date info on Thaipusam 2024 in Singapore visit the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple website or visit its Facebook page

Here’s wishing those who celebrate a Happy Thaipusam 2024!

Lead image #1, and #2 by William Cho, Wikimedia Commons,3# Flickr; image #4 (right) by William Cho, Wikimedia Commons; Image #5 (left) and image #6 by Kristin Bemowski.

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