Thaipusam portraits from Singapore (photo)

Photographer Jon Siegel, who lives in Japan and works throughout Asia, shares these portraits in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool, and explains:

It was a pleasure and an absolute honor to be allowed to watch and follow the Thaipusam festival here in Singapore. Everyone was polite, kind and welcoming to me as I attempted to document the experience with my camera, I am very grateful. Needless to say, I did my best to keep out of the way and to lend a helping hand when needed. This definitely ranks as one of the greatest experiences I have had so far in Singapore, if not in all my travels. A deeply spiritual experience affecting all senses, from the beautiful chanting and music, to the smell of the burning incense and ash, every aspect powerful and poetic.

More about his work here. A few more shots from this series below, and a Flickr set is here.


  1. In the 90’s I lived just steps away from the  Sri Thendayuthapani Temple which is the “destination” of the procession and hence got to see this for a few years. It was absolutely incredible to see how the men carried the heavy Kavadis (something like spiked steel cages)  piercing their torsos for 4 1/2 km in the hot sun!  In one instance we saw a man being carried suspended on two meal rods that ran beneath his back skin. Unbelievable. The tricky part to catch Thaipussam was that the auspicious date was calculated according to some celestial events and no-one seemed to know the exact date until a day or two before the event.

    1. The exact date is fairly easy to calculate. It’s always the full moon between mid-January and mid-February. “Thai” is a month in the Indian calendar (it’s called Thai in Tamil, and Pausha in Sanskrit), so Thai Poosam is a festival held during that month.

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