It is said when the Tamil month of Thai dawns; it heralds the beginning of a new era of prosperity. The month also marks a very auspicious day in the life of Murugan devotees: Thaipusam. With the advent of Thaipusam, the air is purified, all illusions are dispelled and all viruses that affect the community disappear.

On this important event, devotees congregate at Palani Hill to get a glimpse of the Lord of infinite compassion, Sri Pazhani Andavar and experience the grace that radiate around Him. Wearing a loin-cloth, the Lord Dandayudhapani appears with a staff (danda) on his hand.

The message Lord gives is loud and clear. “I remain detached not only from robes, not only from my ornaments and but even from my body and mind.” A mere look at Palani Andavar is enough and all the stains arising out of ego, karma and maya would disappear. A glimpse of the Lord is enough and all desires that originate from mind would subside. A glance at the idol is enough and all tears would be wiped out from eyes.

The grace that flows from Palani Andavar would elevate the devotee to a new state of bliss. Sitting before the Lord of Palani and watching the anointment and arati is the experience worth cherishing in our heart. Equally important is the preparations one makes in advance of the darshan.

How does a pilgrim prepare and qualify him/herself to undertake the pilgrimage to Palani? Pada Yatra or the walk through the long roads that lead to the base of Palani Hill is regarded as the ideal form of preparation. “What is the use of the feet which does not walk towards the Hill of Palani?” so sings a devotee.

With heart full of devotion towards Lord Palani Andavar and love towards all others, the pilgrims walk long distances, braving adverse weather and denying themselves the basic necessities. When he walks chanting the names of the Lord, no other worldly thoughts occupy the devotee’s mind. He starts observing certain austerities 41 days in advance. He refrains himself from engaging in any activity either mental or physical.

This year, due to the pandemic, the authorities have imposed some unavoidable restrictions. We may not be able to reach Palani in physical terms but it is enough if we remember him, sing his songs from wherever we are and walk to the nearest temple from our home.

It is enough if we nourish the spirit of bhakti (devotion) in our heart. It is enough if we remain in a state of what Saint Arunagirinthar and others call “cumma iruttal” (remaining still), the act of remaining silent without any mental or bodily reactions.

This year, let us celebrate Thaipusam by what Arut Prakasa Vallalar said:

Thaniththiru (‘remain alone’)

Vizhithiru (‘remain awake’)

Pasithiru (‘remain hungry’)

—Arut Prakasa Vallalar


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Celebrate Thaipusam in Solitude!