Photo Essay

Thaipusam 2013

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Thaipusam happens on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai. On this day, thousands of Hindu Devotees honours Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
It is believed that on this day, Parvati presented a spear to Murugan to vanquish an evil demon and combat its evil deeds.
In other words, Thaipusam is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

Devotees prepare for Thaipusam by fasting for about a month or even longer.
On the day of the festival, they shave their heads, bear pots of milk, smash coconuts, pierce their bodies with sharp objects, carry Kevadis and undertake a pilgrimage from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at 397 Serangoon Road in the Little India district and concluding at Sri Thandayuthapani Temple on 15 Tank Road which is about five kilometres long.

Thaipusam 2013


Devotees take off their shoes before entering the temple


Cleansing themselves


Preparing the pots of milk


Blessing the journey



The piercing is normally done by friends and family

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A devotee in a trance


Preparing the start the journey to the next temple with the milk


Curious onlookers




The kevadi piercing


Free food for the devotees


Friends and family supporting the devotee by making sure his kevadi is in order


Crowds of people waiting to get into the temple as police bottleneck the area



The final destination


Tired devotees catch a nap at around 5.30 in the morning before heading back to their homes via the first train.


A sight you do not normally see in Singapore.

Thaipusam 2010

Thaipusam 2011

Thaipusam 2012

This is the 4th year I covered Thaipusam and good lord how I miss working with the 35mm F1.4! I swear I will glue that lens to my camera one day and travel with it.
I went down to shoot after a 10-hour shift at work, a birthday party and stayed from 11 pm till 7 the next morning. Then I headed straight for another 10 hours shift at work after which I went straight back and continued shooting. Throughout the entire shoot, I was asking myself: Why am I doing this again?

I never actually found the answer while I was shooting but as I looked through the images I made that night, I think I know why.

1) Singapore is changing. Come 2030, given the population density, we might not have space for such a large-scaled precession. I am in the middle of that change and how can anyone remember what Thaipusam looked like ‘back in the days’ if no one documents it?

2) The beauty of the people I meet knows no bounds as I am always treated as one of their own even when I am not of the same race.
They would still offer food, water and would be ever so happy to share about their faith.

In the end, I guess I use Thaipusam as a test to see where I am in my photography. If I can survive the gruelling overnight shoot and focus on telling my story.
I am a visual storyteller with horrible finance management; have not been shooting much and am clueless about the world of office politics.
Pushing myself to work on my craft; sharing stories; teaching is what I do best and its events like these that keeps my passion going.

I know I sound pretty jaded these days due to life happening, leaving me exhausted but on the bright side, I found a project to work on for my Junior Shooting Home reunion show in August.
Can’t wait to start shooting!

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