It was early in the morning when I made my journey to Batu Caves, where I witnessed one of the most shocking Hindu holidays called Thaipusam. Roots of this holiday lay in Hindu mythology and connected with God of war – Murugan. Legend says that spouse of Shiva God presented her son Murugan a magic spear, which helped him to defeat demon Surandman. This holiday refers to Hindu people from Tamil’ family. During the days of Thaipusam people ask God for healing, help for relatives and close people, forgiveness, and promise to sacrifice something (from a jar of milk to huge metal constructions).
The ceremony begins before the sunrise and lasts till the late night. I came here to see how people celebrate this holiday at 7 am by train KL Sentral – Batu Caves.
The first thing you notice is the crowd. Well, after living in India for some time such big crowd became normal to me, I even miss it sometimes.
Before entering the Cave, a devotee shaves his head.
They also pierce parts of their bodies. You can see a man who yells prayers and mantras being in trance.
A column of people moving from the side of a bridge, singers with megaphones and drummers in many groups, who were cheering up devotees with loud and rapid rhythms.
The Kavadi Attam (transl. from tamil’ language – carriage, weight, load) – the ceremonial sacrifice and offering performed by devotees during the worship of Murugan. It emphasizes debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from Murugan.
Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting for 48 days before Thaipusam. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan.
The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and consumes only certain types of foods known as Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God.
Children make leg massage to their dad.
Some devotees had their cheeks and tongues pierces, hanging fruits attached to their body by hooks.
The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks.
At its simplest, this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.
Devotees had to walk up the stairs leading to Batu Caves.
After they reach the top of the stairs, devotees have to walk a little bit more and the Kavadi would be taken off from their bodies.
This is my third Indian festival and I have to say that Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur is the festival that you definitely have to see by your own. Every time I experience cultures of different countries, and especially Indian culture, it inspires me to explore more and more cultures.