Thaipusam, like most Hindu festivals, celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is believed that Goddess Parvati gave the ‘Vel’ (lance) to Lord Muruga on the Thaipusam day to vanquish the Asura (demon) army. Thaipusam is observed on the Pusam star in the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ (January – February).
Lord Muruga, son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, is also known as Skanda and Subrahamaniyan. He defeated Tarakasuran and other demons using the ‘vel.’ This is why most images of Lord Muruga have him carrying the powerful ‘vel.’
Thaipusam is mainly celebrated in the Tamil speaking world. In India, it is celebrated in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu and in parts of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Thaipusam celebration at the Batu Caves in Malaysia has become world famous. It is also celebrated with much fervor in Singapore.
Devotees carry Kavadi to Murugan temples on this day. Nowadays, Thaipusam celebrations garner international attraction for the body piercing with vel (lance) by devotees.
Legends associated with Thaipusam
There are numerous stories associated with Thaipusam. But the most important story is that of Goddess Parvati presenting ‘Vel’ to muruga to eliminate demon Tharakasura.
Vel behind celebrating Thaipusam
Sages were fed up with the troubles created by demon Tarakasuran and his lieutenants. They complained to Shiva and he instructed Muruga to help them. Shiva gave him eleven weapons and Mother Parvati presented the most powerful ‘Vel.’ Muruga killed all the demons including Tharakasuran on Pusam star in the month of Thai with the Vel. Thaipusam is celebrated to commemorate this victory of good over evil.
Kavadi and Thaipusam
Another legend about Thaipusam is associated with the Kavadi. It involves Muruga testing the determination of Idumban, the student of Sage Agasthya.