Seven years ago, Mr Theneshvaran K. Maran was told he might never walk again after he dislocated his left kneecap.
Yesterday, the Hindu devotee walked for three hours with 108 spikes piercing his body that held up his first kavadi - an intricate wood and metal structure representing his devotion to the deity Lord Murugan.
"The pain (from the spikes) is there but I just prayed the whole way," said the 27-year-old safety and security officer, who recovered from his injury in 2008 and saved up $3,500 to buy the 80kg frame, almost two thirds of his weight.
"My family was with me, singing and enjoying themselves and they made the journey smoother for me."
He was one of 280 Hindus who carried arch or chariot kavadis to mark Thaipusam.
They were joined by 10,000 others who carried pots of milk as they made the trek from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road.
The procession started at 12.05am and ended at 11.45pm.
The festival celebrates Lord Murugan, who is believed to represent virtue, youth and power.
Some followers prove their gratitude to him by undergoing self-mortification on Thaipusam day.
At the Serangoon Road temple, devotees thronged the newly constructed $8 million P. Govindasamy Pillai hall, named after one of the temple's donors.
The function hall, completed at the end of last year, can seat 550 people. Makeshift and temporary building structures have been removed, resulting in more space in the temple grounds.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean, who visited both temples in the morning, said it was "good to see" people from different races taking part in the festival, including a Chinese kavadi carrier.
"It shows the mutual respect and mutual understanding that we have among all our races and religions," he added.
This article was first published on Feb 4, 2015.
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