Live music will be allowed for next year's Thaipusam street procession for the first time in more than four decades.
The Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) and the police said yesterday (2 Dec) that musicians, who have been given approval, can play specified traditional instruments at three points along the procession route.
The instruments allowed are the nadhaswaram clarinet, a barrel-shaped drum called the tavil, and the urumi melam or Indian drum.
Prior to the adjustments, 10 feedback sessions were conducted by the board with 116 members of the Hindu community over a period of two months, ending in April 2015. All participants shared that music is important to the festival with 65 per cent wanting traditional auspicious Indian instruments to be part of the religious event. Some also suggested that live music be played at strategic locations along the 3km route which starts at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road and ends at the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road.
The police have also added another four points, on top of the existing three, for the transmission of music over broadcast systems for next year's procession.
Since 1973, a ban has been put in place to restrict the playing of musical instruments due to a history of rivalry and fights between competing groups which disrupted the procession. The authorities have allowed music to be transmitted over broadcast systems at several designated points along the procession since 2012. Despite the ban, devotees have been playing instruments on the streets over the years.
The police said that its priority is "to ensure public safety and maintain law and order" and there will be increased enforcement against alcohol sale and consumption along the route during the procession too.
Do you welcome this change in rules for live music during Thaipusam?
Source: “Green light for live music at Thaipusam" (The Straits Times, 3 December 2015)