The holy South Indian, or more specifically Tamil festival of Thaipusam should be declared a public holiday as how Malaysia did in some of its states.
The annual procession of penance typified by devotees with impaled skewers and small milk pots carried over their heads, is widely celebrated by the South Indian Tamil community and has been in Singapore for many decades.
On that day, devotees do a five-kilometer trek from Singapore’s Perumal Temple to the Sri Thendayuthapani temple in Tank Road. The festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Subramaniam, also known as Lord Murugan and
occurs on the first full moon in January/February in the Tamil calendar.
In the run-up to the day devotees prepare themselves by a mandatory fast of purely vegetarian meals, prayer and abstinence as a means towards actualizing spiritual cleansing. The festival is thronged by thousands of curious onlookers, tourists and observers alike for what it promises is a psychedelic spectacle of fused with an all-sensory sensation.
Its popularity is such that even busloads of school children could be seen partaking in the sights and sounds alongside the mythology girding its spiritual leaning.
Yet for all its uplifting, spiritual properties the once-in-a-year festival is not gazetted as a holiday in the same way it is in Mauritius and Malaysia.
Singapore which gives everyone of its ethnic communities two gazetted holidays, must have inadvertently missed out giving its Indians the other day off in the calendar. True, the Indians in Singapore honour Deepavali. But that is all that the Indians who are mostly Hindus, have.
Vesak Day which is a Buddhist festival is celebrated by the mainly Chinese majority as it is alongside Sinhalese (who are originally from Sri Lanka and not Indians) Nepalese and other races with Buddhist denominations such as those from Myanmar. Therefore in essence may have just than the Lunar festival for themselves. They also get to partake in Vesak Day and as most Chinese these days are Christians, they also have Easter and Christmas to look forward to.
Only a negligible proportion of Indians observer Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Raya Haji and Christmas.
“Being Indian does not amount to being Buddhist”, said S.A. Nathan,a one-time publisher and now an author.
With only Deepavali to boot, the Indians are deprived of a holiday that the other ethnic communities such as the Eurasians, Chinese and Malays have.
What is more as how the The Independent learned from a preeminent philantrophist is the ‘fact Chinese New Year and the Thaipusam fall or precede behind one another’ every year, does make it a tenable option to turn into a public holiday as in that way the tourists to Singapore maybe tempted to stay longer.
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