After heated exchange between the police and devotees during the recent Thaipusam, many have questioned the ban on music during the festival. There are however other considerations in question.
We’re a nation made up of a variety of ethnic groups, mainly Chinese, Malays and Indians. Each ethnic group brings with them their own culture and traditions that other groups observe and tolerate with utmost respect. Each group is also allocated two days of public holidays each.
Two days of Chinese New Year for the Chinese.
Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa for the Malays who are predominantly muslims.
Deepavali and Vesak Day for the Indians.
Taking a look at the list of holidays and giving it a little scrutiny, you’d notice that Deepavali and Vesak Day are holidays for two different religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. While both religions can trace their roots to India, Majority of the Indians living in Signapore are Tamil and have a bigger denomination of Muslims and Hindus within their ranks. Thus making Vesak Day not as widely celebrated by the Indians, however the holiday is still observed mainly by Chinese Buddhists in Singapore.
With that lets draw the list up again.
Two days of Chinese New Year and Vesak Day for Singaporean Chinese that are Buddhists.
Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa for the Malays.
Deepavali for the Indians.
That leaves the Indian Hindus with one true public holiday, and with Thaipusam being a big part of their culture with many devotees fasting and meditating in preparation for the yearly procession, it is no wonder that there is a petition to make Thaipusam a public holiday just like it was in the 60s and like it is across the border in Malaysia.
The issue this Thaipusam has brought up isn’t simply the ban on musical isntruments which are naturally a big part of any ceremony. Joyous occasions are marked by music that inspire and give praise in a variety of beliefs, taking away music is akin to denying worshipers the right to practice their religion.
A petition to reinstate music at Thaipusam and make it a public holiday has been started by Sangeetha Thanapal who first published a note on her Facebook page in relation to the recent Thaipusam celebrations and fracas.
You can sign up for the petition to reinstate music here and the petition to make Thaipusam a public holiday here.