Hindus usher in Tamil New Year at temples and welcome easing of Covid-19 rules

Devotees seeking blessings at Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple on April 14, 2022. PHOTO: TAMIL MURASU
Devotees seeking blessings at Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple on April 14, 2022. PHOTO: TAMIL MURASU

SINGAPORE - Hindu devotees thronged the Sri Srinivasa Perumal and Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman temples in Serangoon Road to seek blessings on the first morning of the Tamil New Year on Thursday (April 14).

Starting the day on auspicious note, they faced fewer restrictions at the temples - unlike the last two years amid the Covid-19 pandemic - after safe management rules for religious activities were eased last month.

Many of the barricades to manage safe distancing were removed, and people did not need to queue up to enter.

Even so, some rules remained in place. For instance, devotees were still required to check-in using the TraceTogether app and only fully vaccinated individuals were allowed into the temples.

However, devotees could now go around the temple in a clockwise direction - disallowed before curbs were lifted - and perform the Pradakshina, a key act of devotion.

Housewife Pon Nithya, 32, who lives near Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman temple and visits it three times a week, was able to go closer to the shrines and stay for a longer period when she visited.

She said: "Last year did not feel like Tamil New Year at all. Being able to start the new year with a pooja (prayer ritual) is special - it gives you a positive energy."

Laboratory supervisor Ramesh V. R. Soman, 55, a regular volunteer at Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman temple, said he came to the temple to help out right after he got off a 12-hour night shift.

He said: "Previously, a lot of abhishekams we did for the goddess Kaliamman were closed to the public. I am very happy that everyone can come and see them now."

Abhishekams are special religious rituals involving milk baths for the deity.

Tamil New Year or Puthandu is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month Chithirai. 

Sikhs also marked Vesakhi on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Malayalees and Bengalis will celebrate the new year on Friday – Malayalees call it Vishu and Bengalis call it Pohela Boishakh. 

Community Seva, a unit of the Hindu Endowment Board that helps the needy, marked the Tamil New Year by giving away gifts of 5,000 packets of sweets and savoury snacks to workers in dormitories.

About 20 volunteers helped to pack the food.

Community Seva chairman Susila Ganesan said: "We do not want to forget the migrant workers who leave their families behind to work here. Without them, we will not have a clean and green Singapore."

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