Piercing A Typical Singapore Night By Mike

img_1327Click here to see larger versions of all images.

Singapore nights tend to be a little on the tame side.  Usually a nice meal, perhaps followed by a visit to a club, then home.  That’s why this Saturday, when some new friends of ours suggested we head to Little India to see preparations for the Thaipusam festival, I jumped at the chance — even though it was 3AM.

img_1290Thaipusam is in many ways, the Indian Thanksgiving.  Devotees to Murugan, the Tamil God of War, march along a set route carrying a burden of some sort.  For some people, this burden is a silver pot on their heads.  More strikingly, for others, it’s an elaborate metal pyramid-like structure attached to their bodies with dozens of long needles that pierce their flesh.  Through these burdens, the devotees either thank the God for his help throughout the year or implore his help for relieving a troubling issue in the year to come.  img_1361

Saturday night was the preparatory night and we were lucky enough to find the temple in Little India where the devotees were getting themselves ready for the festival that would take place the following morning.  We were graciously invited inside the temple after being given a bag to remove our shoes and were allowed to wander among the participants as they were being pierced.  Due to days of preparation that involve fasting and prayer, they hardly seemed to notice that the rods were being attached to their skin.  img_1339

img_1364Pounding rhythmic music played at all corners from duos consisting of a thavil drummer and nadaswaram (think snake-charmer flute, only this one is the world’s loudest non-brass acoustic instrument) player.  Intoxicating incense filled the air, creating a haze that was pierced by the amazingly colourful saris and makeshift shrines created by attendees.  In all it was a rare, intimate glimpse at a culture that felt completely other and completely non-Singaporean.  Sure beat a night dancing to an an anonymous DJ somewhere!

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Some devotees are also pierced with bells or fruit on hooks.

Some devotees are also pierced with bells or fruit on hooks.

Click here for larger versions of all images.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Singapore, Temples

2 Comments on “Piercing A Typical Singapore Night By Mike”

  1. Eric Says:

    Hi Mike, thanks for the post and great pictures; now I know what we missed. You also taught me an important life lesson: never go home early from dinner when your friends are still out drinking.

  2. Mary Ann Hugle Says:

    Hi Mike and Dianne, Piercing is an interesting ritual and I’m sure when you are close up it is more appealing. Thank you so very much for all your Passages in Time which I enjoy tremendously. Both of you are just having the best time of your life.


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