Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated by Singapore's Tamil community. It is an annual procession by devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks and is celebrated in honour of Lord Subrahmanya (also known as Lord Murugan). It is held during the full moon in the 10th Tamil month, called Thai, which falls in mid-January each year.
In preparation a devotee has to prepare himself spiritually. For a period of about a month, the devotee must live a life of abstinence whilst maintaining a strict vegetarian diet. It is believed that only when the mind is free of material wants and the body free from physical pleasures can a devotee undertake the sacred tasks without feeling any pain. Some devotees pierce their tongues with skewers and carry a garlanded wooden arch across their shoulders. The devotees are normally accompanied by friends and family members who cheer and offer support, usually in the form of prayers and chants.