Post 3 The 10 kilometer walk back from the Temple
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia. I was fortunate enough to be in Penang this year when the festival was taking place. The picture post that follows is divided into 3 parts, but all from one festival day. The festival itself lasted for 3 days over a weekend.
The final post in this series.
Heading back down the steps from the temple to make my way back to Georgetown I am once again caught and carried by the sway and sheer exuberance of colour and sound. Exhausted by the heat and long trek up I am nonetheless once again enthralled by the spectacle. The Kavadi devotees that come now look even more exhausted by the sheer and relentless heat of the sun. The pictures will tell the story, as by this point i was exhausted and with little voice or energy other than trance and sway. A remarkable experience and one that will live with me for a long long time i can only recommend it be on all bucket lists.
Unity, oneness, joy and celebration, the order of the day!
This young girl was clearly having a whale of a time.
There were many stalls along the way distributing free food and drink to all those that wanted or needed it.
Despite the free food many hawkers see it as a business opportunity selling everything from food to cold drinks.
For the ladies the chance to have free henna tattoos applied.
Alters of the ordinary, the strange and the somewhat scary offerings.
The road surfaces have to be constantly sprayed with water in an attempt to try and keep them cool and more bearable for the pilgrims, all of whom make the journey to the temple barefoot.
Kavadi Attam devotees keep arriving all day long.
These kids have been Intel-ed. Many of the stalls and tents are sponsored by major international brands.
Its a family affair.
One can only imagine the experience for this participant blindfolded and drenched in sweat. Clearly in need of a break his guide leads him to a seat
The Kavadi Attam (“Burden Dance”, also written as cavadee) is the ceremonial sacrifice and offering performed by devotees during the worship of Murugan, the Hindu 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. Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting approximately 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 take only pure, Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God. On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). 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. 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.
The description of Kavadi Attam above is sourced from Wikipedia
All images shot in hi res but reduced in size and format for these posts.