Devotees begin preparation for Thaipusam
Preparation to carry the kavadi included prayer and fasting
Around this time every year, Ms Ray Singh begins her preparation to take part in Thaipusam.
Some devotees start their spiritual preparation through mind and body conditioning well before the festival, some take a week, while Ms Ray began her preparation on Jan 12.
The Hindu thanksgiving festival dedicated to Lord Murugan falls on Monday.
The 4km foot procession starts at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road and ends at the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road.
Devotees carry kavadis (steel or wooden structures) and milk pots to seek blessings, fulfil vows and show appreciation.
Ms Ray told The New Paper: "Many people pray twice a day, have a vegetarian diet and sleep on a simple cloth on the floor. It is hard for me to pray twice a day as I am working.
"So I pray only once, but I leave my prayer lamp lit for the entire preparation period until Thaipusam is over."
Ms Ray has been participating in Thaipusam since she was 12.
She began by carrying milk pots and then upgraded to carrying the paal kavadi, a wooden arch with the statues of Hindu deities, 16 years ago.
Introduced to Thaipusam by her mother, she said she initially participated in the festival to pray for better grades. Now, she seeks strength to face adversities in life.
Ms Ray also pierces her forehead, cheeks and tongue with skewers that feature Lord Murugan's vel (spear), Lord Shiva's trishul (trident) and the "Om'" symbol.
Full-time national serviceman Sagar Parsat is another devotee. He went on a vegetarian diet for three weeks and started preparing his kavadi two months before the festival.
He said: "The preparation period was intense. I had to maintain my temper and ensure my mind was pure. I couldn't even shave during that time."
Mr Sagar, 24, first carried a kavadi in 2017, to show his gratitude when he achieved something he had prayed for.
"My father carried the kavadi for seven years before I was born. I was exposed to the festival from a young age," he said.
This year, in response to feedback from the Hindu Endowments Board, authorities have made the rules governing music played at the festival more flexible.
Besides increasing the number of static points at which music can be played from 23 to 35, a wider range of instruments including the ganjira (South Indian frame drum) can be played from 7am to 10.30pm, starting an hour earlier than usual.
Music has an important role in the festival, as many devotees see it as a source of strength to continue walking.
Said Ms Ray: "Carrying the kavadi feels less tiring when I dance to the music."