Tamilians prepare for Thai Poosam in New Zealand

Mangere Temple in Auckland plans 11-day Festival

Venkat Raman

Thiru Subramaniyar Temple of the Hindu Temple Society of New Zealand located at 69 Tidal Road in Mangere, Auckland has planned a 11-day Festival to observe ‘Thai Poosam,’ one of the most important events in the Tamil Calendar.

Although ‘Thai Poosam’ is actually celebrated on January 31, 2018, the Temple has decided to pay obeisance to Lord Murugan, the Presiding Deity with the tying of ‘Kanganam,’ on January 21, 2018 with nightly prayers from 7 pm.

Symbol of Determination

‘Kanganam’ is a thread tied to a Deity or on the right hand of a devotee as a sort of penance and as a representation of determination. In this context, Devotees of Lord Murugan vow to serve their God through ‘Kavadi,’ a ceremonial dance performed especially in observance of Thai Poosam.

Some devotees consider it as a ceremonial sacrifice and pierce their tongues with a sharp spear, representing the ‘Vel’ of Lord Murugan. This practice is discouraged in New Zealand.

Daily Rites

Thiru Subramaniyar Temple will celebrate Thai Poosam with recitations of excerpts from various Tamil religious and literary texts (such as ‘Thiruvasagam,’ ‘Devaram,’ and ‘Skanada Puranam.’). Hundreds of men, women and children will attend the celebrations.

The Temple will observe January 27, 2018 as ‘Thai Poosam Day,’ will witness prayers, Mangal Arti and Maha Prasad in the morning and a procession of Lord Murugan with his consorts Devayani and Valli, in the form of ‘Urchavamurthi.’

The Temple will also observe the actual ‘Thai Poosam’ on January 31, 2018 with Abhishekams and other rituals.

The Observance

‘Thaipusam’ or ‘Thaipoosam’ is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the Full Moon during the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ (January/February).

It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community including Australia, Canada, Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Réunion, Indonesia, Singapore, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and United States of America.

The word ‘Thaipusam’ is a combination of the name of the month, ‘Thai,’ and the name of a star ‘Pusam’ (or ‘Poosam’). This Star is at its highest point during the festival.

The Festival commemorates the occasion when Goddess Parvathi gave Lord Murugan a ‘Vel’ (Spear) to vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.

It is believed that ‘Thai Poosam’ marks Lord Murugan’s Birthday.

Some other sources suggest that ‘Vaikhasi Vishakam,’ which falls in the ‘Vaikhasi’ month (May/June), is Murugan’s Birthday.

Conflict with Demon

This Festival was created during one of the battles between the ‘Asuras’ (Demons), specifically Soorapadman, and the Devas.

At one point, the latter were defeated several times by the former.

The Devas were unable to resist the onslaught of the Asura forces. In despair, they approached Lord Shiva and entreated to give them an able leader under whose heroic leadership they might obtain victory over the Asuras.

They surrendered themselves completely and prayed to Lord Shiva, who granted their request by creating the mighty warrior, ‘Skanda,’ out of his own power or ‘Achintya Shakti.’

He at once assumed leadership of the celestial forces, inspired them and defeated the Asuras. The day is commemorated as ‘Thaipusam.’

Shaivam Principles

‘Skanda Puranam,’ the legend of Lord Murugan, and ‘Thirupugazh,’ which are divine verses on the Lord, adhere to Shaivam principles.

Lord Murugan is the embodiment of Lord Shiva’s light and wisdom and devotees pray to Him to overcome the obstacles they face, as He is the divine vanquisher of evil. The motive of Thaipusam festival is to pray to God to receive His grace so that bad traits are destroyed.

‘Thai Poosam’ is observed as a public holiday in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and some parts of Malaysia.

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Photo Caption:

  1. Mangal Arti for Lord Murugan during Thai Poosam Festival
  2. ‘Urchavamuthi’ Lord Murugan with Devayani and Valli

(Pictures supplied)

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