ambience: music of Thaipusam celebration — percussion
This week marks the holiday of Thaipusam. It celebrates the victory of the Hindu god Murugan, over a human devotee with a bad case of over-ambition. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. According to legend, the god Shiva was compelled to grant the wish of one of his human acolytes.
“Shiva gave a gift to one devotee of his and the devotee wanted to be the most powerful person in the world.”
Dr. K. Ramanathan is a professor at the University of Science in Malaysia. He tells us that Shiva had no choice but to grant the devotee his wish – but in so doing, he created a monster.
“So the situation came when he made everybody’s life miserable. He had control of all the elements and he was that powerful. And because he was that powerful and tyrannical, a lot of good people were suffering. So all these good people then begged Shiva to deliver us.”
But it was too late. Shiva couldn’t undo his own creation. And so, he made Murugan, a new god, whose name signifies youth and justice. Murugan couldn’t destroy the devotee either, but he subdued him, transforming him into a peacock and a rooster.
“The devotee is only ego. It’s not really a person. But the underlying theme behind this is, to reach God, you have to destroy your ego. You must destroy all the elements that are bad in you. Like your illusion: the illusion that says you are the smartest person in the world. The illusion that says you know everything about everything. You know if you can remove that illusion, if you can put God as the symbol, as that which takes care of everything, then you become pure.”
To celebrate the holiday of Thaipusam, Hindus will fast, pray and make offerings of milk and fruit to Murugan.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.