Thousands of Hindus of Tamil origin celebrated the annual Thaipusam festival of penance in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday (19 January).
Thousands of Hindus of Tamil origin celebrated the annual Thaipusam festival of penance in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday (19 January). In the ceremony, professed sinners pierce their bodies with spikes and skewers as an act of penitence.
The punishment is known as "Kavadi" -- the piercing of the body. To some it is a punishment only in the mind, as they don't feel the pain. For those who do suffer, a herbal pain killer is provided.
In Kuala Lumpur, the devotees bathed themselves before dancing their way to the Batu Caves, which the Tamils regard as sacred.
The festival marks the birthday of Lord Subramanian, to whom Tamils turn for absolution.
SYNOPSIS: Thousands of people ???thered near Kuala Lumpur last week as Hindus of Tamil origin celebrated a penitence ceremony. It's the Thaipusam festival of penance. Devotees bathe themselves before having their bodies pierced by hooks and skewers. The Hindus are seeking to cleanse themselves of their sins.
The festival is not only observed in Malaysia, but in Singapore, in the south of India and Ceylon. The custom is called "Kavadi" - the piercing of the body. To some, it's a punishment of the mind only, as they don't seem to feel the pain. But for those who do suffer, there's a herbal painkiller available.
Some of those who take part may be pierced by ten or more skewers. Sometimes flowers and ornaments are added to lessen the agonizing appearance of the penitents.
Late in the afternoon the procession makes its way to the Batu Caves, which the Tamils regard as holy places. Although all types of people take part in the ceremony, it's said some of the most fervent followers have been well-known criminals.
By the light of fires throughout the dave, the Tamils worship, seeking forgiveness or their sins from Lord Subramanian. Some say they have reformed, thanks to the Lord's absolution.