SINGAPORE: Next year’s Thaipusam festival on Jan 28 will go ahead but COVID-19 restrictions mean some of its more distinct elements will be missing.
Among the key changes next year – there will be no foot procession between Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road.
Devotees will also not be allowed to carry any form of kavadis.
COVID-19 restrictions are “expected to continue for some time to come since the world is experiencing new waves of infections”, festival organisers Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and the Hindu Endowments Board said in a media release on Thursday (Dec 10).
“Organising festivals that attract large devotee gatherings are best avoided,” they added.
However, in consultation with authorities, the decision to go ahead with the festival was taken in view of the “more than 150-year-old historical significance of Thaipusam”.
With the foot procession dropped, the festival will be conducted in and around Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. Devotees must pre-book their timeslots online in order to enter the temple to make offerings or pray. Bookings can be made from Jan 3 on the temple’s website.
Only paal kudams (milk pots) that have been prepared beforehand by the temple will be allowed as offerings, and the number of these allowed will be capped to ensure strict safe management measures in the temple.
“All forms of kavadis including paal kavadis, spike kavadis or any variations of body-pierced kavadis are not allowed,” the media release added.
“All devotees, including paal kudam carriers with piercing, such as in tongue, cheeks, forehead, arms and legs or carrying any other forms of objects or implements will not be allowed into the temple.”
Those entering the temple to offer paal kudam can do so in groups of up to two people. This is to ensure more devotees are able to carry out their vows, the media release said.
Other devotees in the temple to pray can be in groups of up to five people, and must maintain a safe distance from each other and wear masks at all times.
Devotees will have their temperature taken and are also encouraged to download the TraceTogether app or have the token ready to scan their entry.
READ: TraceTogether-only SafeEntry check-in to be used at popular venues as Singapore resumes larger-scale activities
PRAYERS TO BE LIVE-STREAMED
The media release also informed the public of “general advisories”, one of which being that any groups carrying musical instruments or amplification devices will not be allowed into the temple.
Inside the temple, “devotees are to continue walking through the assigned pathway without stopping” and must leave the temple premises immediately upon completion of the offering and prayers, the media release said.
It added that there should be no gatherings of devotees or supporters outside the temple.
All elderly, young children and those who are physically challenged are also encouraged to pray from home as the Thaipusam prayer sessions will be live-streamed, the media release said.
The organisers added that the measures may be subject to change, “as variations in the COVID-19 situation closer to the event date may impose constraints that may impact the manner in which the event may be conducted”.