The annual Hindu religious festival of Thaipusam took place in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (24 January).
The annual Hindu religious festival of Thaipusam took place in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday (24 January). The festival is profoundly serious with deep-rooted traditions and participants subject themselves to painful rituals to demonstrate their faith. It culminates in a procession to the shrine of Lord Murugan at the Batu caves on the outskirts of the city.
SYNOPSIS: Along the banks of the river Gombak thousands of people gathered to watch the procession. The festival has its roots in southern India and celebrates the son of the Hindu god Shiva, who destroys evil and dispenses blessings on those who worship him. The procession -- the culmination of two weeks abstinence and meditation -- begins at dawn when the faithful bathe themselves.
Those devotees who wish to express the sincerity of their faith, subject themselves to painful rituals. A long spear -- a Vel -- pierced through the cheeks denotes the victory of good over evil. It also signifies the highest level of purity a devotee can attain. Others carry Kavadis -- colourful altars -- which are attached to the skin by numerous hooks and needles. These are carried along the procession route to be finally placed in front of Lord Murugan's shrine at the Batu caves. Such feats require supreme spiritual discipline, and gain the respect and admiration of fellow worshippers. However, those who fail are regarded as lacking the spiritual faith required to subjugate the flesh.
The mythology behind the festival states that those who wish to worship Lord Murugan must first reach his spiritual and physical level. All his temples are found on top of hills, and worshippers at Thaipusam have to climb 272 steps to the Batu caves and place their Kavadis. Only then are their vows completed.