March of devotion

Devotees bearing extravagant kavadis - decorated steel and wood structures - and sporting hooks through their skin and tongues were part of a procession yesterday to mark the annual Panguni Uthiram festival, held in honour of the Hindu god Murugan.

Others carried chariots and milk pots as they sought blessings and fulfilled vows.

The procession to the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple in Yishun saw more than 10,000 taking part, cheered on by spectators.

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, who was the guest of honour at the event, said that only in a country like Singapore would people celebrate Good Friday, which is observed by Christians, and Panguni Uthiram together with mutual respect for one other.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2018, with the headline 'March of devotion'. Print Edition | Subscribe