SINGAPORE - For the second year running, live music is being played at the procession during the Thaipusam festival on Thursday (Feb 9).
About 50,000 people are expected to throng the streets to mark the annual Hindu festival, which is celebrated in honour of Lord Murugan, who represents virtue, youth and power.
Devotees seek blessings and fulfil their vows by carrying milk pots as offerings. Many also carry kavadis - structures of steel and wood - and pierce their bodies with steel rods and hooks.
From the early hours of Thursday (Feb 9) till midnight, these devotees will embark on a procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road.
The procession, which is organised by the Hindu Endowments Board, Sri Thendayuthapani Temple and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, expects to draw 569 kavadi bearers and 9,661 devotees bearing milk pots. Participation fees cost between $15 for a Paal Kudam (milk pot), and $75 for chariot or spike kavadis.
Live music will be played on Short Street, Hastings Road, and Dhoby Ghaut Green. These feature nadaswaram (double reed wind instrument), thavil and urumi melam (Indian drums) players. Speakers at 23 points along the procession route will also play kavadi songs.
Last year's procession was the first in 42 years where live music was played.
Said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Feb 8): "For Hindu devotees participating this year, I wish you a meaningful and blessed ceremony. The weather can be unpredictable these days, so do keep hydrated and be prepared for sudden showers. Please take heed of directions from the route marshals."
Kavadi bearer Sangar Munusamy, 48, who works in sales, was happy to be there at Sri Srinivasa Temple with his family: "My feeling now can't be said in words."
He said: "I hope there will be more live music (points) next year. It will give us more energy to carry the kavadis. The music gives us the energy."
His spike kavadi (peacock design) weighs more than 35kg.
Said milk pot bearer Madam Mamallan Suguna, 35, who works as a manager: "I'm very happy and excited. We can offer our prayers. The music is a booster."