Thaipusam Date in the current year: January 31, 2018

Thaipusam Thaipusam (also spelled Thaipoosam) is a Tamil festival celebrated on the full moon in the month of Thai, which falls in late January or early February in the Gregorian calendar. It is an important event in the Tamil communities of India, Sri-Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, and some other countries. Thaipusam is even a public holiday in Mauritius.

According to legend, the festival of Thaipusam commemorates one of the battles between the Asura and the Deva. The Asura and the Deva are two classes of divine beings in the Hindu mythology, with the latter considered more benevolent. At one point, the Devas were defeated several times by the Asura, so they approached Shiva and asked for his help. Shiva granted their request and created Skanda, a mighty warrior who became the leader of the celestial forces and defeated the evil asura Surapadma.

Thaipusam commemorates the occasion when Shiva’s wife Parvati gave Skanda a spear which he used to kill Surapadma. Skanda, also known as Murugan, is venerated as the god of war in Hindiusm. Thaipusam is the celebration of his victories. The central ritual of the festival is the Kavadi Attam (“burden dance”). It symbolizes a sacrifice to Murugan as a token of gratitude and as a request for help and protection.

It is common for devotees to pray and fast for 48 days before the holiday. On the day of the festival, they shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage, carrying a physical burden named the kavadi. There are different types of kavadi, the simplest being a pot of milk. But most kavadi look like canopies decorated with flowers and peacock feathers. They are carried by devotees on their shoulders to the temple.

Thaipusam is widely celebrated by the Tamil community in India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Suriname, and some other countries.

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Thaipusam, Thaipoosam, Tamil festival, religious festival, holidays in Mauritius