Thaipusan (Don’t read if you have a weak stomach!)
So, do I have your attention now? Some of the pictures in this blog are pretty graphic.
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival that commemorates when Parvati gave Murugan a vel “spear” so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadam.
On the day of the festival, some 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, it may also include piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with skewers. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain. The greater the pain the more god-earned merit.
We walked the entire route from where some have the piercings done all the way up to the temple. Here you can see one of the devotes getting his cheeks pierced.
Each one of those silver pots (I believe they have a small amount of milk in them) is pierced to his body. Here you can see a guy getting his body pierced. He eventually ended up with his forehead, cheeks, and tounge all pierced as well.
Here is a guy getting his back pierced in multiple places.
Some also carry elaborate structures that symbolize the mountain on which Maruga sits.
The devotes then walk along a route to the waterfall temple. They often have a large entourage that accompanies them for encouragement.
Along the route, they would stop at various spots. Here a holy men washes a devotee and applies holy ash.
Most people had bare feet, but this guy went beyond that with shoes made of nails.
Lining the route were stalls that offered a resting place, food, or had really loud music to encourage the crowd to dance.
This guy went over the top by pulling a small temple behind him.
The route concludes with 292 steps that lead to the temple.
They had a special place where people could get their head shaved. After doing so, they apply turmeric to prevent infection.
As we walked back along the route, it seemed like there was an endless stream of devotes making their way up to the temple.
An absolutely amazing, jaw-dropping event!