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Thaipusam, also recognized as Thaipoosam, stands as a Tamil Hindu festival observed on the initial full moon day of the Tamil month of Thai, corresponding with the Pusam star. Marked by numerous ceremonial acts and ritual practices, devotees get ready for the rituals through personal cleanliness, regular prayers, adherence to a pure vegetarian diet, and fasting.
Read on as Wego unveils details about Thaipusam 2024, its dates, celebration, and significance in India.
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Thaipusam in India 2024 date & timings
For the year 2024, Thaipusam in India will be celebrated on 25 January 2024, which is on a Thursday.
The Thaipusam muhurat or Poosam Nakshathram initiates on 25 Jan 2024 from 8:16 AM and concludes on 26 Jan 2024 at 10:28 AM
Thaipusam in India significance
The word Thaipusam is a combination of two Tamil words – Thai, which is the name of the Tamil month in which the festival is celebrated, and Pusam is the name of the star that is the highest in the sky on that day. It is believed to correspond to the γ, δ, and θ Cancri in the Cancer constellation.
Thaipusam occurs on the initial full moon following the winter solstice, regarded as a day of auspiciousness and grace. The festival commemorates the Hindu god Murugan’s victory over the demon Surapadman with a divine spear called vel, granted by Goddess Parvati.
Thaipusam thereby signifies the conquest of good over evil, light over darkness, and wisdom over ignorance. Devotees fervently pray to Murugan, seeking guidance to surmount life’s obstacles.
How is Thaipusam celebrated in India?
In India, the celebrations of Thaipusam take place in the southern part of the country, specifically Tamil Nadu. Some cities have street food stalls set up to sell sweets and snacks – in yellow and orange – for people walking the kavadi (burden) pilgrimage.
At the Periyanayaki Temple in Palani, Tamil Nadu, a 10-day event takes place that includes an array of activities in addition to the kavadi procession. Many devotees fast for 48 days leading up to Thaipusam, while others fast for the 24 to 48 hours leading up to the full moon day of Thaipusam.
The highlight of the festival is the Kavadi pilgrimage that takes place on the day of the festival. People dress up in bright yellow and orange clothes as they chant and walk to the temple. Yellow and orange were the favourite colours of Lord Murugan.
Some carry a kavadi, or offering (often a wooden or bamboo-made structure that is decorated with much opulence) during the procession. Others simply carry milk pots and fruits as offerings along with them.
Furthermore, certain devotees engage in the kavadi attam or the “burden dance,” during which they pierce the skin on their backs with hooks to suspend bottles of milk. Alternatively, some pull substantial carts with hooks affixed to their bodies.
Moreover, there are individuals who pierce their cheeks and tongues with skewers, symbolically recalling the spear bestowed upon the deity Murugu by his mother, the goddess Parvati. After the removal of the hooks, they apply holy ash to their wounds for healing. Ambulances remain on standby throughout the ceremony to address any potential emergencies.
The kavadi attam can be said to be an endurance test by which the devotees demonstrate the power of their faith. Regardless of the specific way individuals celebrate, their collective prayer is directed towards Murugu, seeking the strength to surmount life’s challenges.