Occupation: Computer Programmer
Residence: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date of Performance/Collection: 2023
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Tamil
Referred as AS. AS was born in India and moved to the United States when she was 24.
Thai Poosam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Tamil community, particularly in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The festival is held in the Tamil month of Thai (January-February) and is dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu god of war and victory. The festival is characterized by elaborate rituals, religious ceremonies, and the participation of many devotees from all over the region to participate in the festivities.
While growing up, AS attended this yearly festival on several occasions.
One of the festival’s main events is the Kavadi Attam, a devotional dance performed by devotees as a form of penance and offering to Lord Murugan. During this dance, devotees carry kavadis, decorated structures weighing up to 40 pounds, on their shoulders as they perform various dance movements.
Another important aspect of Thai Poosam is the Pal Kavadi, a procession of devotees who carry milk pots as offerings to Lord Murugan. This procession is led by the Pal Kavadi carriers, who are dressed in bright and colorful attire and are accompanied by musicians playing traditional instruments such as the nadaswaram and the thavil.
According to Hindu mythology, Thai Poosam marks the day when the goddess Parvati gave Lord Murugan, her son, a vel (spear) to defeat the demon Soorapadman and his army of demons. Lord Murugan, with the help of his vel, defeated the demons and restored peace to the world.
Also, Lord Murugan is believed to be a deity who can bestow wealth, health, and wisdom upon his devotees. Devotees fast, pray, and offer special prayers and rituals to Lord Murugan, seeking his blessings and protection. It is believed that by observing fasts and performing rituals, one can purify one’s body and mind and eliminate negative energies and impurities. Some devotees perform acts of self-mortification, such as piercing their tongues or cheeks with sharp objects, to seek purification and atonement for their sins. Finally, Thai Poosam is believed to be a day of community and togetherness. Devotees come together to perform the rituals and offer prayers, and the festival provides an opportunity for families and friends to bond and strengthen their relationships.