Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thaipusam

Another month, another great southern Indian festival. This month, it was Thaipusam. Celebrated at the time in the month "thai" when the star "pusam" is at its highest point, the festival commemorates the Parvati's giving of a spear to Murugan so that he could defeat the demon Soorapadman. This is one of hundreds of stories from the Hindu Vedas which fill the calendar with a seemingly unending schedule of events and festivals but Thaipusam is one of the more vibrant festivals celebrated by the Tamil community in Singapore. Devotees march 4 kilometers from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India to Sri Thendayathupani Temple in River Valley. Most carry a kavadi, or burden of which Murugan will relieve them once they perform a ritual dance at the temple. For many, this burden is a simple milk pot, carried on the head. For others, the kavadi is a much more elaborate shrine like structure. For the most devoted, the kavadi is literally attached to their bodies by spikes and metal hooks. The body mutilation does not end there; many others have spikes and spears driven through their cheeks and tongues. After the madness of the fire walking festival a month or two ago, we were dreading the potential crowds out for this event, so we decided to approach via a "secret" road down the hill from Oxley Road, and near to the end of the procession. We chose wisely. At our spot, the crowds were thin and the views were perfect and the spectacle of this festival made for a very culturally rewarding afternoon. The boys didn't quite understand what they were seeing, but the colors and spikes kept them interested long enough for Ash and I to absorb the show of devotion occurring in front of us.
































Friday, January 29, 2016

Gardens by the Bay

It's incredible that we have been here for 7 months already and just made our third visit to Singapore's incredible Gardens by the Bay. That means that we've been exploring and discovery so many other places but it's also good to establish some regular spots, places we are familiar with and return to. Now that the Blue Line is open, getting to the Gardens is much easier so we should make more frequent visits to this beautiful place. Also making this more likely is the fact, strolling around the Gardens last weekend, we found a spot that, even in the heart of the city, felt like a secret spot, our own little place to go to relax and disappear for a while. We had many spots like this in San Francisco but that kind of place is not easy to find in Singapore so Ash and I were really excited when we both looked at each other and agreed, "this is the spot!" The spot is a lush, green lawn by a lotus pond with views of the Marina Bay Sands not far away and only the odd person passing by on the trail every few minutes.