COMMENT From a Hindu religious perspective, Thaipusam is all about worshipping and adoring the good deeds performed by Lord Muruga. However, the fervor, passion and enthusiasm for Thaipusam must also consider the political, social and economic contents where Tamils are concentrated.
Yes, Thaipusam provides a powerful opportunity for Tamil Hindus to remember and celebrate the good deeds of Lord Muruga who ended the evil designs of the demons and making the world a safer place for Tamil Hindus. However, Thaipusam for millions of Tamil Hindus is not only about strictly following traditions, but it is about making sense and coming to terms to face and deal with changing political reality, whether it is the French Reunion Island or in Malaysia.
In Penang, Tamil Hindus will be marking the occasion of Thaipusam on a grand scale especially after the Penang Hindu Endowments Board (PHEB) announced that it would be commissioning its Golden Chariot.
The differences between the Nattukottai Nagarather Chettiar Trustees (NCCT) over the timing of the two chariots should not be blown out of proportion. While the PHEB respects the right of NCCT to organise their own Silver Chariot, the right to launch the Golden Chariot must be respected.
Although there are many Hindu religious events, Thaipusam in the month of either January or February is far the most famous event in Malaysia, Singapore and other countries where there are sizeable Tamil populations.
Thaipusam in Penang attracts hundreds and thousands of devotees and visitors not only from within the state, but from other states in Malaysia as well from foreign countries. In comparison to Kuala Lumpur (Batu Caves) or for that matter Singapore, Thaipusam in Penang enjoys the reputation of being well-organised and free from any disturbances.
Thaipusam is all about the worship and adoration of Lord Murugan, the ‘Tamil’ God. In a specific sense, it is about Lord Muruga’s mother, Mariamman, who gave him a lance or spear or Vel to kill a demon. Thus, Thaipusam is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil.
For millions of Tamil Hindus all over the world, it is during this religious event they translate their religious vows by undertaking pilgrimages to temples, carry kavadis, shave their heads and perform other activities in keeping with the worship of Lord Muruga.
Thaipusam is the grandest and most significant religious event in the lives of Tamils in Malaysia and wherever Tamils are concentrated. Even in the French island of Reunion, Tamils who have lost their language, still cling on to Hindu religious traditions and celebrate Thaipusam on a grand scale. Yes, they might have lost their Tamil language, but they identify themselves strongly as Tamils as result of their unshakeable faith and belief in the worship of Lord Muruga.