Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thaipusam Survival Guide

Thaipusam is a big festival for Hindus, so you can expect there will be lots of crowds. And it is taking place in a tropical country, Singapore. The sun is never too gentle around noon, while Thaipusam is almost like a whole day event. Based on my two-time experience with Thaipusam, here is my survival guide.

Attire & Accessories:
1. Wear a hat to have some shade
2. Wear a pair of sun glasses if you are not taking photos
3. Dress light. Dry-fit T-shirt, bermuda and sandals will be good. Remember when you enter the Hindu Temple, you MUST remove your footwear, so don't wear something too expensive, just in case.
4. Bring at least a bottle of water. You may get dehydrated under the burning sun. However, do keep in mind that there are free drinks and snacks available for ALL. Yes, for ALL people, regardless of race, religion or whatever. Do try their snacks, if you have not, just for the experience.

Photography Locations and Timing:
1. The procession starts at the Hindu temple in Serangoon Road, near Farrer Park MRT station, ends at the Hindu temple in Tank Road.
2. The preparation starts at around 2am, but unless you are really serious and kiasu, otherwise I think you can just go early in the morning.
3. There is a preparation tent in the temple ground in Serangoon Road. You can go in there to take photos of how they do the preparation, including the praying, and piercing. This preparation lasts well into the afternoon.
4. If you are shooting early in the morning, say 8.30am and before, the lighting is not going to be too favourable. The streets the procession pass by are lined with buildings. Early in the morning, the streets are still in the shadow of the buildings. However, in the mid-day, the lighting is harsh too. So, not so easy.
5. The kavadis will only come out more after around 9.30am. before that, they are less frequent.
6. It will be handy to have a telelens to take some close-ups. The procession is quite crowded, and you can hardly get a 'clean' shot.
7. It will be good to have an external flash on hand too to do some fill flash. The shadows are killing.

1. Serangoon/Little India area will be very crowded! Ok, depends on your definition of being 'crowded', Little India area was not crowded at all for me on 8 Feb this year. Plenty of room for you to move around. Indeed some sections of Serangoon Road is a bit narrow, and hard to get through, but it was only a couple of minutes wait.
2. The bigger Kavadis will come out in the afternoon. Not true. It is the same.

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