Singapore

More music along Thaipusam route this year

The number of points where music can be played along the 4km Thaipusam procession route has been increased from nine to 23.

This is on top of the three stages where live music will be played at the Hindu festival, which takes place on Feb 9.

Yesterday, the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB), which organises the event, said since there will be more music this time around, participants should not engage private musicians or bring their own musical instruments.

In a media release, the statutory board said it "appeals to all participants to observe the rules", adding that anyone found to have breached them will be subjected to police investigations and may also face restrictions on participating in future processions.

HEB further highlighted a few issues from last year's edition.

The board said 26 kavadi bearers and a couple of participants carrying milk pots had left the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple later than the cut-off point at 7pm, "which delayed the process and caused considerable public inconvenience".

Some participants also brought along musical instruments to play, which is against the law.

This year, no one will be allowed to join the procession after 7pm, said the HEB, adding that kavadi bearers who had signed up for this year's festival, as well as other potential participants, were briefed by the police last week.

The annual festival, which usually takes place over about 24 hours, is celebrated in honour of Lord Murugan.

Devotees seek blessings and fulfil their vows by carrying milk pots as offerings. Many also carry kavadi - structures of steel and wood - and pierce their bodies with steel rods.

Last year, the authorities allowed live music to be played at the procession for the first time in 42 years.

The playing of musical instruments on the streets during Thaipusam had been banned due to past fights between competing groups.

During Thaipusam in February 2015, three men were arrested for disorderly behaviour.

The rule was relaxed after HEB conducted 10 feedback sessions with 116 members of the Hindu community. All said music was integral to the festival.

The Thaipusam procession is one of the three Hindu festivals exempted from a ban on religious foot processions, introduced in the wake of race riots here in 1964. The other two are the Panguni Uthiram and Thimiti (fire-walking) festivals.

This year's Thaipusam procession will cost more than $250,000.

HEB and co-organisers, the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple and the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, are deploying about 800 personnel to ensure the event runs smoothly.

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