Steel spikes and unexplainable happenings - that's the annual Thaipusam festival of penance and devotion celebrated this year by 80,000 Hindus and filmed by Visnews Jan 24.
GV Hindu temple
SV Devotee preparing offerings
LV Devotee having kavadi fitted
CU Pan From spikes in flesh Pan up to devotee's/face
CU The spikes piercing the skin.
SCU The devotee.
STV Armand and Michaela Denis famous photographers watching.
CU The complete kavadi.
SCU Men jabbing hooks into devotee's back
SCU Devotee in trance.
SV Pan Devotees leaving for the Chettiars Temple.
SV Man with spike through his cheeks.
SV Man with kavadi in procession.
SCU Man with spikes in his mouth.
LV Devotee entering the Chettiars temple.
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Background: Steel spikes and unexplainable happenings - that's the annual Thaipusam festival of penance and devotion celebrated this year by 80,000 Hindus and filmed by Visnews Jan 24.
During the year, if a family's prayers are answered one of the members pledges to "carry a kavadi" at the next Thaipusam festival. A kavadi is a thirty pound ornate structure of wire, steel and wood. It looks much like a bird cage but with a poignant difference. Steel spikes, turned inwards, pierce the devotee's head when he puts it on his head.
After the main ceremonies, the pledged Hindu walks barefooted for about three miles on Singapore's asphalted roads, during the hottest time of the day - his kavadi is on his head and his offerings of flowers, fruit and ghee -buffalo's butter- in his hands.
He is prepared for his walk at a temple. Ornamental ash is rubbed into his skin and the kavadi spikes pushed into his face and neck. What appear to be fish hooks are jabbed into his chest and back and small bells hung from them.
While the devotee is being adorned strong smelling incense is burnt and hundreds of Indians chant traditional religious songs. The monotonous beat of the chanting and the soporific effect of the incense hypnotise the subject and he feels no pain - or so he claims.
Also, and this baffles the medical profession, there's no bleeding.
Other steel spikes pierce his cheeks, like a bit. Preparation over, the devotee walks three miles to the Chettiars Temple.
In Singapore's modern streets, sharp spikes and hooks in his body, this Hindu appears incongrous. The mystique and the thousand-year-old rites contrasting with modern day living.