People jam the temple courtyard to overflowing, perhaps as many as 2000 crowding inside the Temple walls, a sea of bright yellow-the color of knowledge, peace and happiness-or so I am told by the devotees.

" It is the color that Vishnu wears", I am assured. Vishnu is one of the three major Hindu Gods to whom many here give their allegiance; one of the Gods for whom they will endure the pain and suffer the hardship of spikes and hookes through soft flesh, and for whom they will walk across Singapore's sweltering streets from Little India to the other side of the city.

Most are drenched to the skin after taking a ritual bath, fully clothed, in the grounds outside the temple walls. The majority in the temple at this hour are women-the men's turn will come later, when dawn breaks and the sun skids in between Singapore's high rise office towers, supersized shopping centres and elegant condominiums.

The sweet smells of sandalwood, camphor and incense fill the air mixed with the sharper smells of human sweat and vie for space with the eardrum-shattering shouts of small groups of devotees which emanate from all directions as they invoke the protection of Murugan, the son of Shiva, the third God in the Hindu triad.

It is a little past midnight and Thaipusam day has just begun but devotees have been arriving at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Singapore's Serangoon Road since 6:00am the previous day. They have come to keep the faith with Murugan, to honor the promises made over the past 12 months to the universal dispenser of favours, in return for a wish fulfilled, a favour granted or just to atone for past misdeeds,

This story follows the activities of the devotees in the temples and as they make their walk across the city and talks to them about their motivations are hopes for the sacrifice they make and the apin they endure.



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