“Thaipoosam” at Sri Meenakshi Temple

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Devotees carrying Kavadis and Paal Kudams gather in front of Kalyana Mantapam after the Pradhakshinam around main temple at MTS

By Ponni Sivaraman

PEARLAND: Thaipoosam, the Hindu festival in honor of Lord Karthikeya (Muruga) was celebrated by with pomp and finesse on the Morning of February 8 at Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland, Texas. This festival celebrated to commemorate the occasion of Lord Karthikeya’s mother, Goddess Parvathi, giving her son the “Sakthi Vel” or the Spear to vanquish the demon army of Asura Tarakaasura and combat their evil deeds. Thus it is a celebration of victory over evil. This day is honored as a special festival at all Murugan temples in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Ceylon and Mauritius and where ever else Tamil Communities exist.

Thaipoosam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February), on the day of the star “Poosam “and around the day of the full moon or Pourrnami. On the day of the festival, it is customary for devotees to shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but purification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common as an act of penance or as a fulfillment of a vow taken to deepen spirituality.

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Lord Muruga resplendant on Ratham (Silver Chariot) with consorts Valli and Deivanai_Thai Poosam, MTS).

On a clear blue crisp morning of February 8, the festivities began at the newly renovated Ganesh Temple with a Sankalpam and Pooja for all the Pal Kudams (a pot of milk with a coconut on top and covered with a yellow ornate cloth which will be offered to Lord Muruga as Abisekham) and Kavadis (a semi-circular decorated canopy made out of bamboo or wood with a wooden rod that holds together 2 small pots of brown sugar on either ends, also used for the Abishekam).  The Pal Kudams will be carried by the devotees on their heads and the kavadis on their shoulders.  This year there were about 150 Pal Kudams and 101 Kavadis.

The Sankalpam and Pooja were followed by the breaking of coconuts to symbolize the shattering of one’s ego in the pursuit of self-realization and by a procession of the devotees carrying Pal Kudams and Kaavadis from the Ganesh Temple to the Kalyana Mandapam through the main Sanadhi. Devotees attired in their finest, chanted “Aroharas” and recited devotional songs in praise of Lord Muruga, the entire way.

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Resplendent Lord Murga with Valli and Deivanai carrying Vel given by Sri Meenaksi (Parvathi).

Once at the Kalyana Mandapam, a grand Abishekham was performed by priests Sri Kalyana Sundaram, Sri Parameswaran and Sri Doraisamy Bhattar and the exquisite Alankaram and Aarti that followed rendered the gathering of about 700 devotees speechless. Devotees recited the Kanda Shasti Kavasam and sang other devotional songs and bhajans as well. The whole ambiance was very divine.

The urchava Murthi along with his consorts Deivanai and Valli were taken in a procession on the silver chariot or “Ratham” to the main sannadhi for the final aarti. Prasadams and a very sumptuous lunch was provided by the temple to all those that attended. It was indeed a very spiritual day to all.
This event was organized and coordinated by Meena and Vairavan Subramanian and helped by Dr. Dorairajan and many volunteers. This huge effort along with the many devotees’ enthusiasm made this year’s Thaipoosam celebration a great success.