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Photo Gallery – Thaipusam Festival, Batu caves, Kuala Lumpur – Joo Peter gives us a ring side view!
Thaipusam “Thaipoosam” is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January /February). The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel “spear” so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. There is a misconception among people that Thaipusam marks Murugan’s birthday; however, it is believed that Vaikhasi Vishakam, which falls in the Vaikhasi month (May/June), is Murugan’s birthday.
Kavadi Attam is a dance performed by the devotees during the ceremonial worship of Murugan, the Tamil God of War. It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasises debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan. Fire walking and flagellation may also be practiced. It is claimed that devotees are able to enter a trance, feel no pain, do not bleed from their wounds and have no scars left behind.
In Malaysia, the temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists.
The procession to the caves starts at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur in the heart of the city and proceeds for 15 kilometres to the caves, an 8-hour journey culminating in a flight of 272 steps to the top. Devotees carry containers containing milk as offering to Lord Murugan either by hand or in huge decorated carriers on their shoulders called ‘kavadi’.
© Joo Peter