The temple in Sungai Petani was established in 1924.
The Hindu community observes Thaipusam in celebration of Lord Muruga on the first full moon day of the Thai month (the first month of the Hindu calendar), which also falls on the Pusam star.
The festival commemorates the triumph of the Hindu deity Muruga over the demon Surapadman, equipped with a Vel, a celestial spear provided by Devi Parvati, according to the Skanda Puranam (Hindu Mythology).
Meaning of the Vel
Many would have noticed the big Vel (Spear) that Lord Muruga holds. The weapon represents the intelligence of a person. According to the legends and what was passed down through generations, the intelligence of a person should be sharp, wide, and in-depth just like the celestial weapon.
Therefore, it was also perceived by the people for many generations that Lord Muruga utilised his intelligence to triumph over the demon.
Thaipusam is one of the biggest celebrations for Indians and the main temple when it comes to Thaipusam is none other than the Batu Caves Murugan temple. Other than that, it is the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, Georgetown Penang (Thannirmalai).
However, there is another temple that many may not know about, which is the Sri Subramaniya Swami Devasthanam located in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
The Sungai Petani Temple was established in the year 1924. The temple was constructed on the grounds of a former Magistrate’s court and interestingly, the shrine of Lord Muruga is placed on the seat that was occupied by the previous judge.
Each temple is unique in their own way when celebrating Thaipusam and so is the Sungai Petani temple.
Experiencing it up close this time around, Thaipusam in Sungai Petani has the rustic feel of the old days. This does not mean that they are backdated but some of the traditions are still maintained to this day.
One of them is the decorations done by Thanneerpanthal. Thanneerpanthal is the booth that serves free food and drinks to the people during the celebration. It is usually situated outside the temple along the roadside.
In Sungai Petani, the thannerpanthal is decorated in a traditional way using banana trees and mango leaves.
This type of decoration is very rarely seen nowadays during Thaipusam. The thannerpanthal also uses the deities’ statues which adds more colour to the celebration.
Talking about colours, this can be seen in the creativity of the kavadis that devotees carry to fulfil their vows.
The kavadis are one of the main elements of Thaipusam. Many people come to Thaipusam just to witness the beauty of the kavadis. In this sense, Sungai Petani does not disappoint.
When it comes to Thaipusam, the whole atmosphere is surrounded by the sounds of Indian instruments known as Urumi Melam.
However, in Sungai Petani, they prefer using even more rustic instruments known as the Tappu melam.
The beats of these instruments will bring rhythm to your feet.
Also in Sungai Petani, youngsters and family members will be dancing with the Kavadi carrier.
History of Kavadi
According to the Hindu Mythology, Idumban who is also a demon was the first devotee of Lord Muruga to carry a Kavadi.
This story happened after the war between Lord Muruga and the Demon Surapadman. Thus, in modern times, the kavadi is carried just like Idumban to fulfil their vow to Lord Muruga.
At first, there was only one type of Kavadi which is the Idumban Kavadi.
However, through the years and with the creativity of devotees, the Kavadi has evolved into many types such as the Mayil Kavadi (Peacock Kavadi), Vanna Kavadi (Colourful Kavadi) and in Sungai Petani there is a unique kavadi called Theer Kavadi (Chariot Kavadi).
The Chariot Kavadi is a person pulling a chariot by hooking metal rings to the person’s back and using thick strings that are attached to the chariot to pull it.
This Kavadi is usually carried by two or more people according to the size of the chariot.
All in all, Thaipusam is a festival that is dedicated to Lord Muruga and is celebrated across Malaysia. This celebration comes with a lot of colours and happiness.