Tuesday, June 1, 2010


One day my husband’s Malay colleague asked him his plans for Thaipussam. My husband was dumbstruck since he had never heard the term before. He did not want to appear ignorant. So he gave a grin and replied that he had not yet decided. We were just couple of months old to Malaysia then. He came back home and enquired if I knew anything about it. I casually answered back saying that it could be some local festival. He then suggested that we should learn more about local customs and festivals to avoid being caught unawares.

We decided to surf the net and literally fell out of our chairs when we discovered that it is an Indian festival. What stunned us more was when we found out that it is a south Indian festival. We belong to the southern part of India. Curious to know further, we digged for more information and were flabbergasted to discover that it is celebrated in Tamil Nadu our neighbouring state. We hail from the state of Andhra Pradesh, (AP) which shares its borders on one side with Tamil Nadu.
India is a vast country with 28 states and around 30 languages being spoken across the length and breadth of the country. It is a mammoth task to know local customs and traditions of each state, but not knowing about our neighbouring state left us disappointed. Only further reading satisfied our bruised egos. Thai Pussam is a local festival of Tamil Nadu and there is no public holiday given in India.

Further reading gave us lot of information on the festival. Thai Pussam is celebrated in several countries such as Singapore, Mauritius and Malaysia. It is celebrated in all countries where Tamils migrated from India. It is observed as a public holiday in various states of Malaysia. It’s a Hindu festival held in honour of Lord Muruga. The maximum festivities are carried out in Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. Tamil speaking people participate in large numbers in a procession where the deity is carried out. Traffic is diverted and roads are closed in certain parts of Kuala Lumpur on that day. A chance visit to Kuala Lumpur in January and a trip to Batu Caves gave us a true insight of the mammoth celebrations held in Malaysia. This festival is celebrated usually in the month of January and February.

Thai Pussam is celebrated in countries where there is large presence of Tamil speaking people. Tamilians migrated in large numbers during the British rule in India to different countries. A large number of Tamilians were shipped by Britishers to Malaysia to work in the rubber plantations and they brought along with them the culture, traditions and festivals.
Indeed Thai Pussam for us was a true Malaysian discovery.

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