Since I live close to the Batu Caves, I decided to get myself there early in the morning on Thaipusam day to go watch the procession and devotees…
It us after all an interesting but somewhat intimidating celebration, intimidating since there were so many police around to keep the peace and overlook that the pilgrimage is done peacefully with no would be troublemakers causing any disturbance..
A K9 unit was seen weaving their way through the crowd as I stood there watching in fascination as devotees came to fulfil their vows and promises or came to beg for favours in return for small sacrifices…
Thaipusam is celebrated with a public holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang and Selangor here in Malaysia
It is an annual festival which traditionally falls on a full moon. The celebration is said to commemorate the occasion when Parvati – the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and devotion – gave Murugan, her son a vel (spear) so that he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.
The barefoot walk to Batu Caves from a temple in KL would be the most popular element of the celebration. There be many devotees carrying milk pots and some carrying kavadi (ornate frames).
The kavadi is pretty scary looking as many of it are supported by a series of spikes that laterally pierce the skin of their chest and backs as a symbol of penance. Some devotees carry heavy kavadis, which can weigh as much as 100 kilogrammes.
Then there are those who pierced their faces with tridents or hang multiple hooks and chains from their backs.or chests in an act of penance or to fulfil some promise made to the Lord Murugan.
I saw one devotee practically rolling on the road all the way to the foot of the steps…and another pair of parents carrying their baby in a yellow cloth hung on a couple of sugar canes carried on their shoulder
It can be fascinating with the gold 42.7 m statue of Lord Muragan looking at his devotees. The devotees will then climb a large staircase into the limestone caves, where some shrines are located.
On the month leading up to Thaipusam, it is said that the devotees will hold daily prayer sessions, abstain from sex and stick to a strict vegetarian diet to ready themselves for this very high level of mental and physical fortitude.
The devotees consider Thaipusam to be an expression of loyalty and allegiance between people and the deities. In a sense, it is also a form of thanksgiving to Lord Muragan for prayers answered.
There are many offerings made to a large number of different shrines, though the Batu Caves is still the most popular shrine(s) of all.
Address – Exit Jalan Lingkaran Tengah 2, Kawasan Industri Batu Caves, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor