More music points on Thaipusam route

Devotees carrying kavadis during the Thaipusam festival in Singapore last year. This year, music will be broadcast at 23 points along the route.
Devotees carrying kavadis during the Thaipusam festival in Singapore last year. This year, music will be broadcast at 23 points along the route.PHOTO: ST FILE

There will be more points for broadcasting recorded religious songs during this year's Thaipusam procession, which takes place on Feb 9.

The music will be broadcast along the 4km route at 23 points, up from nine last year, for the Hindu festival.

This is in addition to three stages where musicians will play traditional instruments such as the nadhaswaram, a type of clarinet, and a barrel-shaped drum called the thavil.

The three stages are in Hastings Road, Short Street and Dhoby Ghaut Green (the same as last year).

Yesterday, the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) said that since there will be even more avenues for music along the procession route, participants should not bring their own musicians or musical instruments.

The HEB co-organises the festival with the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road and the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road.

In a statement, the statutory board said that although the majority of participants last year cooperated and abided by the rules for the foot procession, there were some issues.

The board said 26 kavadi bearers and about five participants carrying milk pots left the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple later than the 7pm cut-off point, "which delayed the procession and caused considerable public inconvenience". The procession has to be completed by midnight so roads can be reopened.

Some participants also deliberately brought along musical instruments to play along the route, which is against the law, said the HEB. Those who breach the rules will be subjected to police investigation and may also face restrictions on participating in future processions.

The police briefed potential participants on the rules last week.

The annual festival, which usually takes place over 24 hours, 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 - decorated steel and wood structures - and pierce their bodies with steel rods, among other things.

Last year, the police allowed live music to be played in the procession for the first time in 42 years, and it took place at three live music stages. This was after the community gave feedback after the festival in 2015.

The organisers are deploying about 800 personnel this year to ensure that the event, which will cost more than $250,000 to organise, runs smoothly.

The HEB said: "Thaipusam is of deep religious significance to the Hindu community. The HEB seeks the support and cooperation of all participants to preserve the sanctity and decorum of the Thaipusam festival."

Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple chairman K. Vellayappan, 72, expects about 30,000 people to participate in the procession. About a third will carry milk pots, and about 350 will be kavadi bearers. Dr Vellayappan said the music points, placed every 150m along the route, are for "participants to sing along to help them focus and fulfil their vows".

• For more information, visit thaipusam.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2017, with the headline 'More music points on Thaipusam route'. Subscribe