The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. It is the day special for the worship of Lord Muruga. Thaipusam occurs in the month of Thai on the Full Moon day when the Moon passes through Pusam nakshatram. Pusa nakshatram is noted for high intelligence and the Moon represents our state of mind.
This day is devoted to the worship of Lord Muruga through poojas and homams because on this day Muruga received the weapon Vel from Goddess Parvathi to destroy Sura Padman. This symbolically indicates the destruction of all evil things including our inner evil. So, praying to Lord Muruga on this day will bring spiritual wisdom and inner intelligence to us.
Thaipusam is a thanksgiving festival that involves asceticism and control over one’s senses. It is a day for devotees to celebrate the fulfillment of their vows. It is also said that Lord Shiva came down to earth on this day to mitigate sufferings caused by our karma and bestow enlightenment on us.
Going to Pazhani, Thiruchendur on foot for Thaipusam has been a sacred observance undertaken by people over a long period of time. Kavadi attam and pal kudam are the famous rituals of the day.
Outside of India, it is celebrated mainly by the Tamil speaking community settled in Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka and elsewhere around the world