Thai Pushyam is celebrated with great pomp and gaiety in the South India especially in the Tamil Nadu to commemorate the victory of Lord Murugan or Lord Subramanya. The festival falls on a full moon night in the month of January. It is believed that Goddess Parvati gave a spear to Lord Murugan to kill the evil demon Soorapadman. Thai Pushyam marks the death of the evil demon Soorapadman and is regarded as an auspicious day to pray the Lord Murugan to get rid of enemies, diseases, debts and take the blessings of Lord Murugan. The festival is called ‘Thai Pushyam’ because ‘Thai’ refers to the Tamil month and ‘Pushyam’ refers to the star. It is said that ‘Pushyam’ is at its highest point during this festival. ‘Thai Pushyam’ is celebrated in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and South Africa because a large number of Tamil speaking community have been migrated there long time ago.
The ‘Thai Pushyam’ festival at Palani Temple is well renowned for the grand celebrations than any other Murugan Temple in Tamil Nadu. In Palani, ‘Thai Pushyam’ is celebrated for ten days with great devotion. Large number of devotees performs ‘Kavadi Attam’ which comprises of two wooden or steel semi circular pieces fixed to a structure so that it can be carried on the shoulders by the devotees. The devotees decorate the ‘Kavadi’ with peacock feathers and flowers and offer it to Lord Murugan. The devotees following ‘Kavadi’ are expected to follow the rules of Brahmachari and eat vegetarian food only once a day. Devotees undertake ‘Kavadi’ to get rid of troubles in their life. Some devotees walk barefoot from their home to the temple of Lord Murugan carrying the ‘Kavadi’ on their shoulders. It is seen that some devotees pierce the skin, cheeks, tongue etc with the spear which is also known as ‘Vel’. The ‘Kavadi’ itself is very heavy and is very difficult to carry it on the shoulders and walk barefoot, but the devotees never express any kind of pain and say it with great pleasure that Lord Murugan helped them to overcome all the difficulties with ease.
The procession at the Palani temple observes infinite number of devotees carrying the ‘Kavadi’ chanting “Shakti Vel” and dancing to the sounds of drums. It is seen that all the devotees are dressed in a yellow or orange color dress and perform the “Kavadi” which leaves the onlookers mesmerized. Several musical shows are organized in praise of the Lord which is a major attraction for the tourists. ‘Thai Pushyam’ is celebrated mainly in Tamil Nadu but is also seen celebrating in some temples in Karnataka and Kerala. In Karnataka it is celebrated in the famous temple of Kukke Subramnaya with great zeal and enthusiasm. In Kerala ‘Thai Pushyam’ which is known as ‘Thaipooyam’ is celebrated in Udayanapuram Subramnaya Temple with much religious importance. The largest ‘Thai Pushyam’ celebrations outside India are witnessed in Malaysia at the ‘Batu Caves’ which attracts devotees from all across the globe.