My first taste of Thaipusam happened on the first night of the three day festival. Many Hindus both living in Malaysia as well as all over the world, gathered together at Sri Mahamariamman Temple. Here, they prepared a large float with flowers, lights and a statue of the Hindy deity Murugan. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a spear so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. In the days leading up with the festival, devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting approx-48 days before Thaipusam. The devotees observe celibacy and take only pure, Satvik food (Need tree, cow milk, flowers, fruits, and food that are allowed as offerings to God) once a day, while continuously thinking of God. On the day of the festival, devotees shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage down the streets of Kuala Lumpur, making their way to the Batu Caves carrying various types of kavadi (burdens) on their heads (the burdens are a pot filled with milk). Mortification of flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with skewers is also common. I’ve never been part of such a large religious celebration before. I felt as if I was back in India, with the smell of jasmine and incense flooding the air and positive energy among the people. There were stalls set up around the city offering free delicious Indian food and drinks to all; Hindu or not. Overall, this was an amazing and very unique experience.
Check out my video from the festival above!