Thaipusam or Thaipoosam (Tamilதைப்பூசம், Taippūcam ?) is a festival celebrated by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia,[1] Mauritius[2] Singapore,[3] South Africa, Canada and other places where ethnic Hindu Tamils reside as a part of the local Indian diaspora population such as Réunion, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica and the other parts of the Caribbean.

It is a national holiday in many countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Fiji. In Singapore, it was a national holiday once but it was removed from Singapore holidays.

Note: In Fiji, Thaipusam is not officially declared as a national holiday, while in certain states of Malaysia and in the nations of Sri Lanka and Mauritius it is a government and a bank holiday.

The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel "spear" so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. It is commonly believed that Thaipusam marks Murugan's birthday; Some other sources suggest that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan's birthday.[4]

Thaipusam Murugan
Murugan during Thaipusam.
Also calledதமிழர் திருவிழா
Observed byTamil most notably Sri Lankan Tamils, Malaysian Indians, Indian Singaporeans, Indian Indonesians, Indo-Caribbeans, Indo-Fijians, and Indo-Mauritians
SignificanceThe festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel
Datedecided by the Tamil calendar.
2019 dateMonday 21 January
2020 dateSaturday 8 February


This festival was, according to one tradition, said to have been supposedly created during one of the battles between the Asuras (or to be more specific Soorapadman) and the Devas. At one point, the latter were defeated several times by the former. The Devas were unable to resist the onslaught of the Asura forces. In despair, they approached Shiva and entreated to give them an able leader under whose heroic leadership they might obtain victory over the Asuras. They surrendered themselves completely and prayed to Shiva. Shiva granted their request by creating the mighty warrior, Skanda, out of his own power or Achintya Shakti. He at once assumed leadership of the celestial forces, inspired them and defeated the Asura forces and to recognise that day the people created the festival, Thaipusam.

According to Skanda Puranam, the legend of Murugan, and Thirupugal which are divine verses on Murugan, adhere to Shaivam principles. Murugan is the embodiment of Shiva's light and wisdom and devotees pray to him to overcome the obstacles they face, as He is the divine vanquisher of evil. The motive of Thaipusam festival is to pray to God to receive his grace so that bad traits are destroyed.[5]

Kavadi Attam

The Kavadi Attam ("Burden Dance", also written as cavadee) is the ceremonial sacrifice and offering performed by devotees during the worship of Murugan.[6] It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from Murugan.[7]

Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting for 48 days before Thaipusam. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and consumes only certain types of foods known as Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God. On the day of the festival, devotees shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route, while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens).

At its simplest, this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common. The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks.".[8]

A similar practice is performed by the Nagarathar community in Pazhani, India. This is known as the Nagarathar Kavadi.

Thaipusam in India

In Palani Sri Dhandayuthapani temple, 10 day Festival (Brahmotsavam) is held during ThaiPusam. Thirukalyanam (Celestial Wedding) will be held on the day before Thaipusam. On Thaipusam, Therottam will be held. Lord Muthukumaraswamy will bless devotees in Thanga Guthirai Vahanam (Golden Horse), Periya Thanga Mayil Vahanam (Golden Peacock, Theppotsavam (Float Festival) during the 10 day festival

In Chidamabaram (Thillai) Panchamurthi Veedhi Ula, Thirthavari, Thaandava Darsanam Aarthi will be held on Thai Poosam. In Madurai Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple, Sri Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Theppotsavam (Float Festival) will be held at Mariammam Theppa Kulam. In Mylapore Kapaleeswarar Temple, 3 Day Theppotsavam will be held during ThaiPusam Pournami.[9]

At the Linga Bhairavi temple in Coimbatore, devotees participate in a 21-day Shivanga sadhana, which ends on Thaipusam at the temple. Women offer kudam or pots of plants, grain and fruit, which they carry on their heads over a certain distance.[10]


Outside India, Thaipusam celebrations take place in USA, Mauritius, Malaysia and Singapore.[11] It is a public holiday in several states in Malaysia. In Malaysia, the temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur & Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, Penang near George Town, Penang & Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple, Penang and Ipoh Kallumalai,Perak, often attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists.[12]

In Singapore, Hindu devotees start their procession at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in the early morning, carrying milk pots as offerings or attaching "kavadis" and spikes pierced on their body.[13] The procession travels for 4 kilometres before finishing at Tank Road, Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.[14][15][16]

In Indonesia, the procession mainly held in the capital of North Sumatra province, Medan. On the eve of Thaipusam, the Hindus gathered together at Sree Soepramaniem Nagarattar Temple at Kejaksaan Road to accompanying a 125 years old chariot or locally known as Radhoo from the temple to the main temple nearby (about 2-3km) at Sri Mariamman Temple at Kampung Madras which opening for 24-hours for the festival. The kavadi procession are also happening at the day, but it takes on different temples around Medan and other parts in the province depends on them celebrate it.

In the United States of America, the Shiva Murugan Temple in Concord, California celebrates the Thaipoosam preceded by a walk. Some people walk more than 46 miles from the city of Fremont, some walk 21 miles from the city of San Ramon to Concord, and most walk 7 miles from Walden Park in Walnut Creek to Concord. Over 2000 people participated in the walk for last several years.


Devotees carry 'paal kudam' offerings at Thaipusam festival

Batu Cave Thai Pusam 1985

Batu Caves, Malaysia during Thai Pusam 1985

Thaipusam in Mauritius - January 2011 (5372544017)

Thaipusam in Mauritius

A day of devotion %E2%80%93 Thaipusam in Singapore (4316108409)

Thaipusam procession in Singapore

Penang thaipusam Silver chariot

Silver chariot procession on Thaipusam eve in Penang, Malaysia

Penang thaipusam Kavadi procceession

Penang thaipusam kavadi procession

See also


  1. ^ "Malaysia : has all you want to know about Malaysia". Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Festivals, Cultural Events and Public Holidays in Mauritius". Mauritius Tourism Authority. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  3. ^ Thaipusam in Singapore.
  4. ^ "Vaikasi Visakam and Lord Murukan LALALALA". Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  5. ^ Significance of Thaipusam Archived 13 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine., OmTamil published 15 October 2012
  6. ^ Kent, Alexandra. Divinity and Diversity: A Hindu Revitalization Movement in Malaysia. University of Hawaii Press, 2005. (ISBN 8791114896)
  7. ^ Hume, Lynne. Portals.
  8. ^ Palani Thai Pusam, accessed 5 December 2006
  9. ^ K, Kandaswamy. "Thaipusam in Palani, Tamil Nadu (India)". Live Trend. K Kandaswamy. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Thai Poosam celebrated with fervor". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  11. ^ Thaipusam celebrations in South East Asia.
  12. ^ 1.3 million mark Thaipusam – Star newspaper. Archived 3 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Loh, Larry (2 February 2010). "Thaipusam 2010: Faith, ritual and body piercings". Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Thaipusam | Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Singapore, Singapore". Whatsonwhen. 24 November 2010. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  15. ^ Cheney S (8 February 2009). "8,000 Hindu devotees take part in Thaipusam festival". Channel News Asia.
  16. ^ (1996) Pancorbo, Luis: "Los picados de Thaipusam" en "Fiestas del Mundo. Las máscaras de la Luna". pp. 85–93. Ediciones del Serbal. Barcelona. ISBN 84-7628-168-4

External links

  • Thaipusam date calculator As the date of Thaipusam is determined based on the position of the Sun and the Moon the date varies slightly depending on where you are. When using this link check the city that the web site is calculating for and adjust it if needed.

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