Do you search for something astonishing, something you have never seen? Something more than just sightseeing or booze-up at a party? Do you want to explore exotic authentic traditions that for most of the people on the entire planet will be bizarre and insane? Yes? Then be crazy enough and go to Thaipusam Festival. It’s not a festival for the weak-nerved, but for those who are able to perceive and respect, weird, yet important for locals traditions that pass from generation to generation. This stunning event will make your jaw drop and everything in your head will be upside down, but you will gain a unique experience.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THAIPUSAM FESTIVAL
Thaipusam is a tremendous and colorful Hindu festival primarily celebrated by the Tamil-speaking community to honor Lord Murugan( also known as Subramaniam), the son of Shiva and Parvati. According to the legend, this event is considered to be the birthday of Lord Murugan and the day when he defeated the demon Soorapadman, the embodiment of the evil. In general, this celebration is a time for fulfilling vows and seeking blessings, but it is definitely not an ordinary religious holiday.
In 2019 the Thaipusam festival will be held on the 21st of January in Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, and Mauritius, but the largest celebration will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Annually the thousands of tourists invade Batu Caves, where most of the festivities take place.
The Thaipusam festival lasts for three days. On the first day, early in the morning, devotees start procession from Sri Mahamariamman Temple (in Chinatown) through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, bearing a golden chariot with a statue of Lord Subramanian. The second day participants spend walking barefoot 15 kilometers to the Batu Caves. The whole location is overcrowded, without a one-meter free place to take a breath. If you happened to be at the Thaipusam festival with family, you’d better stay away from crowds. Also as soon as you arrive at Batu Caves, you will understand why at the very beginning I described this event as the most shocking and weird and simply insane. Many people are in trance, some of them are carried by their relatives. But it is not the most flabbergasting part of this festival. The cherry on the top of this procession is the way worshipers pay penance to Lord Murugan. People pierce their skin, cheeks or tongue with vel skewers. What is more, some people even have small hooks in their backs with some fruits or any other small decorations. The bravest and the most devoted to Lord Subramaniam can be seen hung on multiple hooks while being pushed forward. Speaking about your safety: don’t make a haphazard decision to pierce your yourself with hooks. Such a ritual is definitely not for amateurs.
Then devotees, their family, friends, and tourists are going upstairs to the Batu Caves, where more prayers are performed. The worshipers also bear the giant constructions called kavadis, which in Tamil literally means ‘sacrifice at every step’. They usually carry flowers and milk. Kavadis are very heavy, sometimes the weight of kavadis can reach nearly 100 kilos. Also, it should be mentioned that before worshipers carry kavadis, they, first of all, prepare themselves spiritually, practicing celibacy, following a strict vegetarian diet and fasting for last two days before the celebration.
When prayers are finished, all the devotees have the screwers removed from their bodies and wounds are treated immediately. After two days of celebration at Batu Caves, all the participants go back to Sri Mahamariamman Temple accompanied by lots of performers with drums, beating out a groovy rhythm.
To GO or Not to Go?
You might have doubts whether to visit this festival or better choose another destination. We say: “GO!”. Experiencing such an astounding celebration cannot be compared to any other event on the globe. If you seek adventure and new impressions, you should come and feel the frenetic and electrifying atmosphere of the Thaipusam festival.