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    Jan 25, 2016

    Live music a hit at Thaipusam festival

    THAIPUSAM throbbed with a new beat this year as live music was allowed at the annual Hindu festival for the first time in more than 40 years.

    Thousands lined the 4km route from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road yesterday to watch devotees celebrate the fulfilment of their vows by carrying kavadis and pots of milk.

    R. Jayachandran, chairman of the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) which organises the procession, said some 330 people carried kavadis, compared to 250 last year.

    "We had a lot of publicity and allowing music which encourages the devotees' spiritual focus; I think these have helped to create a more meaningful experience," he said.

    The HEB said more than 20,000 devotees took part in this year's festival.

    Live music was allowed at three stages in Hastings Road, Short Street and Dhoby Ghaut Green, and there were seven music transmission points. There were also wider lanes and the HEB halved the cost of carrying a kavadi to $75.

    Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam joined devotees there and told reporters the mood was positive, with devotees appreciative of the new arrangements.

    The previous ban on live music was reviewed after the HEB conducted 10 feedback sessions with members of the Hindu community. All said music was integral to the festival, with many wanting traditional Indian instruments as part of it.

    Organisers deployed more staff and volunteers to ensure things run smoothly. Mr Shanmugam said there were also more police officers on the ground, not just to help with security but also to assist people. But the large majority of devotees helped ensure things run smoothly, he added.