Public outrage grows over alleged discrimination against devotees at Thaipusam kavadi procession

The seemingly needless disruption a group of devotees allegedly faced during Thaipusam has sparked public outcry over the strict restrictions devotees participating in the one-day festival are expected to adhere to.

Members of the public grew incensed after a videos of the disruption some devotees faced during Thaipusam last month went viral online. The Facebook user who posted the videos, Pradeep Thana, revealed that the Kavadi procession included the girl who received considerable praise during Thaipusam last year when a video of her singing during her father’s kavadi procession went viral.

Pradeep wrote that the girl, Vaishnavi, was apparently singing for her father’s procession, like she does every year, when the procession was halted by the authorities:

“Like every other year, Vaishnavi (the girl in the video) was singing hymns and supporting her father along Serangoon Road and Selegie Road when, a HEB member, and a police officer stopped our kavadi and accused us of singing too loudly. Not only did they disrupt our procession, they surrounded our kavadi and started taking a video of each and every family member and supporter of our kavadi. This two officers followed us for a good 30 minutes while we were singing and trying our very best to ignore the fact that we were being filmed for no apparent reason. This caused Vaishnavi and every one with the kavadi much distress and completely ruined everyone’s mood.”

Comments excoriating the Hindu Endowments Board poured in as the post went viral with thousands of shares and ‘likes’ by netizens who felt that the devotees were unnecessarily discriminated against.

Soon after the post began trending online, a petition was started on change.org, calling for the authorities to lower restrictions on singing and playing classical instruments during kavadi processions.

The petition – which is addressed to the HEB, Singapore Police Force and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth – reiterates that singing and the playing of classical instruments are an integral part of Thaipusam processions as music helps alleviate some of the difficulties Kavadi bearers face during the “beautiful yet somewhat difficult journey”.

Created by change.org user Pria, the petition urges: “If a ban should come, it should only be for non classical instruments. Please give Hinduism some respect and give us the freedom to pray, Devote and celebrate! Please do not kill our culture.”

Within 24 hours, the petition has garnered almost 5,500 signatures so far – just shy of 2000 signatures from meeting its 7,500 target.

Meanwhile, another video response to the disruption some devotees faced has been trending online, as well. The video, by Facebook user Suresh Vanaz, calls on the authorities to kindly allow devotees to play music during Thaipusam, much like the petition that has been circulating online.

Vanaz wrote that the incident disturbed him since the music that was played during the procession was very soft and since it was mere children who were singing, with the assistance of adults.

While acknowledging the contributions the HEB has made in the Indian community, Vanaz called the board and, particularly, the HEB officer involved in the scene out and asserted: “You are supposed to support Indians, not go against Indians!”

Vanaz also questioned what was wrong with playing music since the devotees were not hooligans, before adding, “music is our culture.” Calling the officers’ demands “ridiculous,” Vanaz pointed out that devotees pay to go on kavadi processions unlike other groups that do not have to pay a fee when go on processions.

The netizen opined that if the people do not voice their opinions, the generations to come will not know what Thaipusam in Singapore is really like:

hi guys. Please support our local event that happens only once a year. Please allow the devotees to play music during Thaipusam. As one nation, one people, one Singapore I think we all can stand united with voicing this view. Thank you. Share share share share…..#thaipusam #Suresh Vanaz#Suresh Vanaz Thalai#Seelan Letch

Posted by Suresh Vanaz on Monday, 5 February 2018

Devotees incensed that authorities allegedly disrupted Thaipusam kavadi procession for no good reason

54 COMMENTS

  1. Hindu Endowment Board has always been seen as a govt watch dog and it is managed by yes men. They hardly does any good to Hindu community. It’s a disgrace to let such sycophants manage places of worship. This is how this govt poke it’s nose into everything.

    In this case, it is too obvious that they were abusive. Both the HEB guy and the SPF officers failed to conduct themselves. But I am not surprised, given the current standard of SPF n HEB. Both scored own goal thinking they are right.

  2. I also want to sign leh!!! Where!? I also want to suggest Public holiday so people cannot complain tomorrow need to work.

    I propose. Take Good Friday or Christmas away on bo? Cos absolutely no cultural element.

  3. Really lo….once every year why create un necessary issue? We local bred Sporean are very tolerates lots as far as i can remembered. Whoever lots complained noisy i confirm not local bred Sporean! If those ppl cannot tolerate please go back to where u belongs. U R NOT WELCOME HERE!

  4. Hindus need to be more vocal, to speak up. Other communities will speak up for them but when more of them speak up, the voices become stronger and louder

  5. If each kavadi is accompanied with individual volunteers that need to report anything police just need to standby. The sight of police along with kavadi is never in good interest of a ritual. Just need to prevent the unruly from performing their acts. It a day for prayer not a performance

  6. Indians suffer every corner of this world. They can’t get things easily must fight for it or live with it I wonder why? If all the Indians stand up together will it be a crime I wonder? Our traditions and values are dying and why was Thaipusam PH was removed from the calendar? Every year Indians are asking and requesting for it why not approve by the government? Why can’t we play music during the kavadi possession what’s wrong? Who ever talking about the Indians roots first of all do you know the values and traditions about the Indians and their roots. Sooner or later there is going to another riot . Make it simple treat every race and religion equally! Why the Chinese are allowed to play the drums during chingay possession? the lion the hit drums so loud and the Chinese funeral they are allowed to play music and chant so loud with a bloody mike below the block! Why the Malay weddings they are allow to play music ? Can the government stop all this? For your info I am not a Hindu! I grew up in Klang Road double storey house just behind the Indian temple and opposite a mosque. We never complaint as the Muslim first prayers in the morning alarm all of us wake up to go to school and work! We were happy. You wake up hearing the Iman pray. We used to sit together to watch kavadi, chingay possession dancing and laughing we never complaint. We love our Malay friends when they play during the dikir Barat we enjoyed it nobody complaint! So why now be extra? You remove their PH you take away their freedom now control their traditions. Simple you all are provoking the minds of the Indians I make it simple! The government is breaking the unity of our races, traditions, values and the unity of different cultures! All of us are from different races and religion yet we support the Hindus why? Because they are not given the equal right!

  7. I support the Hindus. They are truly peaceful people. Why are the authorities targeting them for noise pollution? They should be allowed to practise the religion freely according to the religious harmony act. Why is parliament so deafeningly quiet about the issue?

  8. No one has the right to interfere the cultural celebration. If Thaipusam celebration is noisy, what about seventh month ghost festival ketai which last for many nights!? Respect the Indians, respect their culture!

  9. Wait for 17 March 2018, St Patrick’s Day. See if the Singapore Police Force will Ensure that the Whites & expatriates don’t march around Boat Quay & Clarke Quay in their drunken state with march bands to boot. Then we know who are being treated like 2nd class citizens in Singapore.

  10. Thaipusam use to be a noisy affair many years back. I like the festival mood. It was nice watching all the devotees dancing along with the music. We are following China where all religion is strictly monitored.

  11. Who give SPF the go to interupt the Kavadis stopping the devotees.
    Most of them were family members
    Whey treat us like criminals.OMG
    Getting bad to worse. HED you got no respect for lord Muruga. Who the person is will answer the lord one day. Wake up please and respect your religion.

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