SINGAPORE: For the first time since 1973, devotees participating in the Thaipusam procession this year from Sunday (Jan 20) to Monday will be allowed to play percussion instruments, the police said in a statement.
Under the new provisions, registered singers and musicians will be allowed to accompany kavadi carriers with a new range of percussion instruments: The ganjira and one of either a thavil, dhol or khol, which will also have to be registered with the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB).
Music can start at 7am, an hour earlier compared to previous years, and end at 10.30pm.
There will be 35 points where recorded music can be piped in - up from 23 last year - and three live music points.
"The police have been working closely with the HEB to further facilitate Thaipusam over the years, taking into consideration the past conduct of participants and whether they adhere to the rules, and cause law and order or safety problems, or disturb residents and the general public.
"The new provisions were introduced in response to specific feedback received by the HEB," police said.
The restriction on the playing of musical instruments along the procession route was introduced in 1973, due to concerns over unruly behaviour in the past.
It has been gradually relaxed since 2011 and devotees have been able to sing religious hymns along the procession if no amplification devices are used.
Static music transmission points were allowed in 2012 to broadcast music to devotees.
In 2016, live music was allowed after feedback sessions were conducted with members of the Hindu community, with many saying that music was essential to the procession.