Time to rethink Thaipusam music ban


Devotees taking part in the Thaipusam procession on Serangoon Road, just after leaving Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Jan 31, 2018.
Devotees taking part in the Thaipusam procession on Serangoon Road, just after leaving Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Jan 31, 2018.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam recently explained that music is allowed on St Patrick's Day as it is marked as a cultural event here rather than a religious one (Shanmugam explains Govt's stand on rules for Thaipusam procession; March 26).

Since time immemorial, culture and religion have been closely intertwined.

The dividing line is often blurred, so it is pointless to split hairs.

Mr Shanmugam also explained that live music was banned in 1973 because of fights between competing groups.

Forty-five years have passed and people are now more educated and civil.

Surely, laws must be revised to reflect the changing times.

Can you imagine a lion dance without the drums and cymbals? Can a Taoist priest perform his religious rites without music?

Are these ceremonies considered cultural or religious?

Music has always been a part of spirituality. It is a ubiquitous component of any cultural or religious festival. The hour has come for the Government and the Hindu Endowments Board to revise some of our antiquated laws.

Why then are mobile live musicians disallowed in Thaipusam, which is held only once a year?

Music has always been a part of spirituality. It is a ubiquitous component of any cultural or religious festival.

The hour has come for the Government and the Hindu Endowments Board to revise some of our antiquated laws.

Michael Lum Yan Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2018, with the headline 'Time to rethink Thaipusam music ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe