Note: This post is about two very different concepts and at first may encourage you to grab a bite to eat. Don’t do that because the second part of this post may make you want to throw up. Also, if you’re a weak person, you may not like these photos.
San Francisco has nothing on Asia when it comes to street food. Every country we visit has their own twist on outdoor dining: Korea serves street food inside orange tents, China fries bugs and bats, Taiwan has streets that come alive with night markets. But the king of street food, by far, has been Singapore.
On our first day I discovered that Little India was celebrating the Thaipusam Festival right down the street from the Tekka Hawker Market and took this to be an omen from the heavens above. A parade AND Indian street food? Yes!
Most of my Indian holiday history comes from Kelly’s explanation of Diwali or the vague recollections of paint being splattered on Stanford students during Holi day. I thought it might be like on ‘An Idiot Abroad’ with Indian Babas who do crazy forms of devotional yoga and acts of faith like holding their hand above their head for 12 years.
Really my expectations of this Thaipusam Festival were pretty mild forms of needles coupled with some interesting babas and possibly some paint throwing. If I had been expecting some serious SMBD shit, I would have chosen NOT to dive into a huge Styrofoam plate of Chicken Biryani. With extra Sauce. Plus Lentils. With more extra Sauce.
But dive into the Indian food deliciousness we did.
The heavens opened and rained down a delicious combination of grease and goodness that we soaked up with ever last bit of Roti. This was swiftly followed by a strong chai. Happily in addition to outstanding street food Singapore also has spotlessly clean bathrooms that cost 30 cents.
From the Tekka Market we rolled outside and joined the growing number of people who were lining the street for the parade. We slowly ambled in and out of stores. I even managed to make room for some gulab jamun as we waited in the sweltering heat for the festivities to begin.
As I put the last bite of sugary deliciousness into my mouth, the music turned waaay up and the first devotee marched into view.
Yes! Bondage! Men on spikes with pierced tongues and cheeks! It turns out that the Thaipusam Festival is more along the lines of the Catholic Opus Dei than happy Hindu Babas. The people celebrating this festive fast and meditate for weeks before subjecting themselves to physical pain, a method of asking for help from the God Murugan.
Perhaps I should do a little more research when coupling religious festivals with binge eating.