3 February 2015 | Murugan Temple, Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia.
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Wikipedia: Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February).
The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel “spear” so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.
Soorapadman (also known as Soorapadam), was an asura. He was the son of the rishi Kashyapa and an asura princess, Maya, who illusively enchanted Kashyapa into marrying her. He, and his two other brothers, were said to have received a boon from Lord Shiva that protected him from death in the hands of beings apart from a Being manifested from Lord Shiva Himself.
This, he believed would grant him immortality. As such, he began tormenting all the good souls of the universe. Enraged with his actions, Lord Siva is said to have created Lord Murugan (thus creating a new deity, who would be exempt from the boon) from the flames emanating from his Third Eye on his forehead (symbolizing the eye of wisdom). Receiving the vel (lance) from Lord Siva’s consort, Parvathi, Lord Murugan set forward to defeat Soorapadman.
On the fifth day of Kandha Sasthi, Soorapadman, comes to see Lord Murugan and is shown the Vishwaroopam. Only Soorapadman and Arjuna from the Mahabharata have seen a Vishwaroopam and are consided to be very lucky to have witnessed one. Having conceded defeat at the hands of Murugan, Soorapadman remembered that he was of the Asura clan, and as such he would not surrender.
As such he faced the son of Shiva nonetheless in battle and was defeated. As a last stand when all his illusions had failed him, Soorapadman became a mango tree in hope of escaping death at the hands of young Lord Kandha. His illusion was brought to light, when with the Sri Vel, Lord Murugan split the tree in two. One half became the peacock,that is Lord Murugan’s vahanam (vehicle) the other half became the cockerel that is on the Lord’s flag.
There is a misconception among people that Thaipusam marks Murugan’s birthday; however, it is believed that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan’s birthday.