Thaipusam procession to start earlier on Jan 30

The Thaipusam procession will kick off at 9.30pm on Jan 30 from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, and conclude the next day at the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at 6.30pm, said the Hindu Endowments Board.

The board said the timing and duration of the procession was brought forward as Thaipusam this year falls on the day of a lunar eclipse. It said: "No religious services can be carried out and no milk offerings made during an eclipse."

Hindus consider eclipses inauspicious because "light and energy from the Sun or Moon are blocked and cannot reach the Earth". Temples close for the duration that the astronomical event can be witnessed in Singapore. The total lunar eclipse on Jan 31 will take place between 6.51pm and 11.11pm.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes directly between the Sun and Moon, blocking sunlight from reaching the Moon and causing the Earth's shadow to cover it entirely.

Thaipusam is celebrated in honour of Lord Subramaniam, also known as Lord Murugan, who represents virtue, youth and power, and is the destroyer of evil. Devotees seek blessings and fulfil their vows by carrying milk pots as offerings or kavadis - structures of steel and wood - with sharp body piercings.

Kavadi bearers have been allocated slots for the procession.

Participants can get live updates from the board's Facebook page.

Its spokesman said: "The Sri Thendayuthapani Temple has made arrangements to ensure a smoother and faster flow for this year's procession. For instance, parts of the procession lanes have been widened and there are adequate overtaking lanes. Provisions are also being made to accommodate participants who might be delayed during the procession itself due to unforeseen circumstances."

Melody Zaccheus

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2018, with the headline 'Thaipusam procession to start earlier on Jan 30'. Print Edition | Subscribe