Source: Pradeep Thana Facebook account video screengrab.

Thaipusam incident involving Hindu Endowment Board and police over singing of devotees during procession

A Facebook user Pradeep Thana posted an incident of the police and Hindu Endowment Board (HEB) officers who followed the devotees in Thaipusam procession held on 31 January for as long as 30 minutes, recording and questioning the participant, actions which are said to have brought inconvenience for the devotees.

One of Pradeep Thana’s footage showed a girl by the name of Vaishnavi singing hymns in support of her father, who was carrying a Kavadi, a bamboo pole clad in yellow or ochre clothes, carries milk and flowers on a pole to the temple, along Serangoon Road and Selegie Road.

The devotees then got into heated argument with the police and a HEB member, who stopped the Kavadi and accused them of singing too loudly. The officers asked the devotees to show the musical instruments that they were using during the ceremony.

The next video showed an officer with a camcorder on hand, taking video of each and every family member and supporter of the Kavadi.

According to Mr Pradeep, the officers followed them for good 30 minutes while they were singing and trying their very best to ignore the fact that they were being filmed for no apparent reason.

“This caused Vaishnavi and every one with the kavadi much distress and completely ruined everyone’s mood. Needless to say, were appalled by the authority’s behaviour as we were only singing hymns and in no way a nuisance,” he stated.

Mr Pradeep also stated that they were also well aware there were a few HDB blocks around and were keeping the volume down.

The post has been shared for more than 3,000 times. Most of the netizens commented that such thing should never happen in the country which motto is  ‘One nation One people’ as the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race religion.

Some also said that most of the ceremonies held in the country are noisy and they do not mind as it does not happen in a daily basis.

Goh Yanling Daryl wrote, “Okay this is coming from someone who lives right across Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, so I’m one of those directly affected by the noise. Seriously, to HEB, the police, and whoever who is restricting this and that about Thaipusam, how about you conduct a poll asking those living around the area whether is it seriously affecting their lives. To me, it’s just a once a year celebration, where I watch in awe as devotees carry beautiful Kavadis and walk with their families. Really, it is one of the most amazing festivals in Singapore. What is a celebration without music, singing and instruments??? And just for ONE night for god’s sake.They aren’t carrying megaphones and cymbals, It’s just a small hand-drum. Yes, it is noisier than usual. Yes it is much more rowdy than usual. Yes, it is slightly more inconvenient to go home because of road blocks. But tolerance, acceptance, and respect for other cultures are one of the most highly prioritised values in Singapore. It is what makes Singapore beautiful. I would delightedly trade one night of ‘noise’ for a happy and beautiful festival. I can’t speak for everyone living around the area, but I believe most Singaporeans will be in support of Thaipusam and not make too much of a fuss. Listen to the people, don’t make useless laws and restrictions that takes fun out of our country. Really disappointed by the way the authorities handled this.”

Germaine Wang wrote, “I am a Chinese and i have no issues with fellow Indians whipping out their musical instruments for their celebrations.”

Zaq Marcello wrote, “This is a yearly event which being practised many years ago. Why suddenly make so much fuss? Seems like racist is beginning to be trend after LKY passed on? Wow! What a democracy! I wonder if during the CNY lion dance troupe is on a silence mode.”

Nur Othman wrote, “They have no rights to stop it because during that day those Hindus is just doing their prayer and their couture is like that. If they must be silence then how about those lion dance? Why can’t they played on silence mode and why those authority didn’t stop them?”

Nuraensah Hussain wrote, “I despise selective culture. All religion and culture celebrations should be allowed to be celebrated in a peaceful (meaning no fights not quiet) and controlled manner. This is what makes Singapore a diverse country. If I am a foreigner, I would appreciate and enjoy watching the celebration such as this. The government should support and provide securities for them instead. The Muslim’s Maulud parade was banned ages ago and now Thaipusam has to be quiet? I mean, if Singaporeans have been tolerating the Malay’s karaokes and wedding under the void decks, the Chinese Getai singers lulling us to restless nights in the middle of an enclosed HDB area, the lion dancing, then I am sure we can tolerate this for one day. Come on, guys!”

Gowri Elangowan wrote, “I’m wondering why they are called “Hindu” Endowment Board. You guys got bribed by some person to work against the Hindu or what?? If the HEB is bad, officers are worst. Screw you man!”

Muhammad Adam Lim wrote, “There is no end to this. And they say that Singapore is a multi religious and multi cultural community. But when individual religion are practicing their culture, sure got those who like to complain.”

Henryace Ace wrote, “I just don’t understand why singing and music were suddenly forbidden since a few years ago. Is it because new citizens and foreigner dislike the “noise”?
It is very rude and antagonistic to film (up close) devotees performing religious ceremony. Come on, this is just once a year and it is part of Singapore’s culture. Don’t clamp down just because of frivolous complaints of new immigrants.”

Yap Kw Steve wrote, “Don’t understand why the Devotees cannot sing and play their hearts out once a year. This type of festive also lends joy and cultural diversity appreciation to our society.”

Gary Ho wrote, “Seriously, what’s the problem? This has been going on for years with no issues. It is a once a year event and they need the music to motivate them on. What next? No funeral music? No lion dance? Devotees can only use earpiece? Seriously, let every religion and culture have their space.”