Thaipusam, a colourful and religious festival celebrated by the Hindus of mostly Tamil descent has arrived once again.
Introduced in Malaysia in the 1800s followed by the first celebration in Batu Caves in 1888, Thaipusam has since become a significant festival observed by the Hindus which involves them fulfilling their vows to become a better person in the community.
The word ‘Thai’ means the tenth, referring to the tenth month in the Tamil almanac, whereas ‘pusam’ refers to when the Pusam star or the moon is at its brightest — the full moon.
The Hindu mythological books have recorded this day as the day when one of the Hindu’s deities, Lord Murugan who is also the deity of youth, power and virtue according to their belief, appeared before the devotees.
So, how does this commemoration for the triumph of good against evil teaches people to do good? Here are some of the lessons learnt from Thaipusam Day.
1. Be appreciative of people.
The celebration of Thaipusam is based upon the expression of gratitude and appreciation from the Hindu devotees to Lord Murugan during his birthday for defeating the asuras, who represent the forces of hatred, greed and arrogance.
Appreciating each other for their positive contributions is the key to an everlasting harmony in a relationship or a community.
Each of us plays our part for the good of society. With this in mind, contributing our smallest of effort in offering gratitude would be golden.
Sometimes an invisible force holds back our tongue from uttering a word of thank you; even our limbs are frozen from doing good to people in return for their righteous deeds to us.
But fret not! This is the time to start over. Better late than never: it is time for us to embrace this most exquisite form of courtesy.
“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” – Henry Ward Beecher
2. Give more, gain more.
To fulfil their vow and pledge, the Hindus participate in the ritual act of penance, from as simple as carrying a pot of milk (palkuddam) on their head to the severer rituals of carrying the ‘kavadi’ (literally means sacrifice at every step) during Thaipusam.
The devotees opt to perform the acts and endure the pain during this celebration of Thaipusam, hoping for the atonement of sins as well as having their prayers fulfilled by their diety.
Most people dream so big, yet give up so fast. This is because they couldn’t bear the amount of hard work that is required in overcoming the challenges in their life to achieve what they yearn for.
This is a grave problem that causes some to only dare to dream small due to their fear of challenges and failure.
A dream, however big, is a valid dream. We just have to have more passion, work a lot harder and never quit.
“The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.” — Epictetus
3. Make adequate preparations.
Several days prior to the festival of Thaipusam, the devotees who will carry the ‘kavadi’ will make a spiritual preparation, such as minimal consumption of food, fasting for days, undergo sexual abstinence, and offering more prayers.
These steps are believed to be vital in purifying their bodies for the rituals on Thaipusam.
Numerous inconveniences caused by us and other people could have been avoided if well-made preparations were taken into consideration. Extemporaneous tasks often result in a break of trust, decline of productivity, and the damaging of our self-confidence.
We are not a total disappointment or a failure. We are not a bad presenter or a less-than-average student in our studies.
Our undoing is due to the lack of preparation by us— and this is something that everyone can improve on, including us. Otherwise, we will be forever be stuck in this vicious cycle and not emulate or learn from those who have come before us, those who get their preparations ready beforehand and reap multiple benefits from it.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln
What a world we are living in today: a world filled with multiple faiths and religions. What a blessing!
Rather than perceiving this as a difference that divides, why don’t we try to strike an understanding that is based upon mutual principles shared across all faiths: which is to Do Good to everyone?