God, Thaipusam and You

As our nation prepares for Thaipusam 2014, one question left me floored. I brought my godchildren out for our usual  Sunday breakfast. What used to be a monthly affair in the past had become a weekly one due to the fact their parents are living separately and undergoing a divorce.  Both the father and the mother are my dear friends from my teenage years and I do get the occasional guilty pangs as I played cupid for their union which did not last for the eternity we had hoped for.

The father,  following Shahrukh khan in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, found love after marriage. Enough said.

As the kids and I were wolfing down our appams, I was trying to allay their fears and excitements over their first Thaipusam.  They had obtained their father's permission to carry the Paal Kudams (Milk Pots). While the mother had insisted that the children were too young for the 4.5 km walk from the Srinivasa Perumal Temple along Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple on Tank Road , I was solicited to negotiate with the mother.

The kids had told me over our last outing that they decided to participate in this year's Thaipusam to pray that their parents would reunite and for me to buy them an XBOX One. My eyes welled up on hearing the first reason and it did not take long for me to choke upon hearing the XBOX.

But the XBOX was nothing compared to what I was to hear next. The princess while tearing a piece of appam and trying to sprinkle some orange sugar crystals and coconut to create a smiley face asked me  "Maama (uncle), Murugan has 2 wives right? Then why Appa (father) cannot have 2 wives? Why is it wrong for him?"

Although I could hear Santhanam  and the rest of the male population  going "factu factu factu" in the background, I was completely taken aback. I told the kids that I will talk to them about it another time. I knew that this was something their parents should speak to them about. Besides, I had no idea what to tell them. I was not even aware the children knew about the other woman.

Further reading on Murugan and his 2 wives  left me  confused due to many different versions and stories. I just cannot help but feel that religion just complicates matters.  But that's my personal opinion and shall be kept to myself

This purpose of this post is not cause any disrespect and/or offence to any devotees taking part in Thaipusam. Each person has a special relationship with God. Some rely on religion to structure their path. Some take their own paths. The point is for you know know and understand your journey.  Do not follow blindly.

There is no purpose in living this month like a saint and spending the remaining 11 like a pariah. There is certainly no glory for those who have transformed Thaipusam into a Kavadi Beauty Contest. For those who have invented strange stunts like improvising on your dance moves, or competing to be the last Kavadi  leaving Perumal Temple, or to win the tallest Kavadi accolade , it is about time you realise that Thaipusam  is between you and God and not a popularity contest. For those who have  converted Thaipusam into their private Alcohol and Dance Party in the past, good luck to you this year!

Thinesh Kurunathan

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