Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thaipusam Muted

11:50 AM By Barry Smyth , No comments

For 45 years since Singapores independence Thaipusam has always been celebrated with loud music, gongs and drums. In all these years, did anyone complain?

No!

But now, suddenly, for the first time ever since independence, someone complained - and complained so much - that the authorities decided to give in to them and chose to mute one of Singapores local traditional celebrations.

And who are the residents of new homes along the Thaipusam’s 4km procession route from Serangoon Road to Tank Road that have done all the moaning, are they native Singaporeans or others unfamiliar and/or unwilling to appreciate what is not only a part of the local culture, but part of Singapores cultural heritage. It’s the one thing that I love about Singapore, the diversity of the cultural identity here and that very same diversity is firmly embedded as a part of Singapores Cultural Heritage. To mute it is to mute that very heritage.

Lets hope that these guidelines are not enforced because this is a spectaular festival for the Hindu community

Here’s the article from the Straits Times.

The Straits Times
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thaipusam set to turn down volume
New guidelines ban traditional loud music and drumming from the annual procession
By Yen Feng


This year’s Thaipusam celebrations will be a quieter affair if guidelines made public for the first time on Thursday by the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) are enforced.

Those participating in the procession on Jan 19 and 20 are barred from playing recorded music or sounding gongs or drums.

Traditionally, the music – often played at a deafening volume – is seen as encouragement for those who pierce their bodies as an act of faith. Now, only the singing of hymns will be permitted.

Other rules include no shouting, and no paint or makeup to be used on either the devotees’ faces or bodies. Those who flout the rules may be barred from future processions – or face a fine of up to $5,000 under the Public Order Act.

And for the first time, spike or chariot kavadi bearers are required to nominate a representative who will be responsible for their conduct.

The HEB said the rules mirrored guidelines set by the police for permits to hold Thaipusam celebrations. But they were put together for the first time this year for the public to address long-standing issues of crowd and noise control, officials from the two temples organising the procession said.

The temples are the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road, and the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple chairman K. Rajandeeran said the move would not compromise the procession’s religious nature, and would “ensure public safety and that it takes place in an orderly manner”.

Every year, tens of thousands of Hindus take to the streets to give their thanks to Lord Murugan, an important Hindu deity. Sometimes, expatriates unfamiliar with HEB guidelines have joined in.

Last year a 10-year-old visitor from India was seen carrying a spiked kavadi – wood or metal structures fied onto devotees’ bodies – when only those above 16 are allowed to pierce their bodies.

Mr K. Kannappan, trustee of the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, said residents of new homes along the procession’s 4km route from Serangoon Road to Tank Road complained about the noise last year“So this year, we will be better neighbours,” he added.

The rules evoked mixed reactions among devotees, with Mr Raj Kumra, 34, who walked in last year’s procession, saying they are a dampener. “The music, the sounds, all that is part of celebrating Thaipusam. It’s our way of giving thanks for our blessings,” he said.

But they will not mean much to Mr Sankar Suppiah, 40, a devotee who has carried a kavadi for the last 20 years. He said: “This is a powerful religious experience for me. I do it for myself, for my family. Rules do not change that.”


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