Next year’s Thaipusam celebrations will finally include live music, the first in 40 years.
Not everyone will be able to play at next year’s festivities but musicians with approval from the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) will be able to play a specified amount of instruments along 3 points of the route next year.
The instruments specified are the nadhaswaram clarinet, a barrel shaped drum called the tavil, and the urumi melam or Indian drum.
The ban was lifted after numerous feedback sessions over a period of two months conducted by the board with 116 members of the Hindu community.
The ban in 1973 came along after a history of rivalry leading to fights in at procession. This year’s Thaipusam saw an outburst between authorities and devotees after a group was told to stop playing their drums. The police said on Wednesday that its priority is “to ensure public safety and maintain law and order” and that the festival, which usually stretches beyond 26 hours, presents unique challenges as it draws 10,000 devotees and thousands of onlookers to the streets.
All religious foot processions were banned in Singapore in 1964 in the wake of race riots that year. But Hindus were given an exemption and have been allowed three processions on major roads – Thaipusam, Panguni Uthiram and Thimithi.