Travel Snapshots: Thaipusam Festival

In my previous Travel Snapshots posts I mentioned what a melting post Singapore is, and today I have another post that highlights that fact.  Singapore is home to a large number of Tamil Hindus, and on a recent outing we stumbled on the Thaipusam festival.

Honestly, when we first came across it, I had no idea what the celebration was about.  There was a procession of men, women and children coming down the street and not wanting to miss the moment, I dove for my camera (which was of course at the bottom of my purse).  It wasn’t until later that day that I was able to look up the festival to better understand the images I had snapped.

img_5196Thaipusam is a holiday that honors Murugan, the Hindu god of war and victory, who destroyed a demon with a Vel (spear).  Followers celebrate the holiday by following a designated path through the city while performing various acts.  Everyone is barefoot, many men shave their heads and both men and women carry milk jugs on their head.  But what we found particularly fascinating were the acts of penance, which included piercing of the flesh with large spears while carrying a kavadi  (a decorated canopy) throughout the route.  I learned that in Singapore the route is about 4 km long!

Here are some of the men carrying their kavadis down the street:

Thaipusam  1


Thaipusam 2


Thaipusam 3


I love getting a glimpse into other cultures.  I am so happy that we are having these experiences in Singapore!


  1. This looks so magical, and there’s something surreal about walking into a festival like this. I once stumbled into a Hindu festival in Amritsar and couldn’t believe all the little boys painted blue with long tails. I hope you write about all the cool things you are doing in Singapore, I love reading about it!

    xo Mary Jo

  2. Happymother says:

    You took very good pictures! During our visit to India we saw a Hindu festival in Varanasi!I loved this so much, it was a wonderful experience! I like your posts very much!

  3. This is certainly not like the kind of parade we are used to in Canada…love the flowers and beautiful colours, but the ritual piercing takes some getting used to!! Still, experiencing the traditions of another culture is always so interesting!!

  4. ACH DU LIEBER!!!! That is some scary piercing!!! Great shots, Lexus!

  5. Wow. Amazing experience, I’m sure. I’ve never heard of such a thing. I can only imagine how much you’ve learned, observed and experienced since your relocation there.

  6. I love these Snapshot series… Loving how you’re beginning to incorporate other elements into your blog… and love learning about other cultures. You’re in such a beautiful place, can’t wait to see more.

  7. It’s a fascinating thing experiencing other cultures. For a couple of years we’ve been searching for and watching movies from so many corners of the world, from Pakistan and India, to Morocco, Senegal and Chile, and this alone has been so enriching, but getting to actually live there and observe their traditions and lifestyle, and blend into their world must be truly wonderful.

  8. I’ve heard of the festival, but never realized there was such a long route for it here! These followers definitely show great devotion!

    Chic ‘n Cheap Living

  9. Oh, I wish this was going on while I was there!

  10. Your photography is amazing. I love the colors. I can’t imaging leaving California and going to another country, especially with a new baby. You are brave.

  11. These photos are gorgeous. When I am on vacation I love to visit all over and see what the local life is like. These photos make me want to travel.

  12. I love the colors! The piercing makes me flinch, but I admire their devotion.

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