Friday, February 01, 2008

Thaipusam 2008: Faith and Tribulations

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Girl having hair shaved, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

Thaipusam must be one of the top events on my 'What you should not miss when you are in Malaysia' list. A celebrations by Hindus this celebration is often the culmination of a month of self abstinence and fasting by the devotee who then goes on to bear the kavadi, of which there are various forms as well. Though there are other famous venues around Malaysia such as the temples in Raub, Rawang and Klang as well as in Melaka, Penang and Johor, none reaches the grandeur and scale as what is done at Batu Caves.

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Ritual bathing near the Gombak River, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

This is my second time visiting Thaipusam and again with friends. It truly was an experience that will leave an impact on anyone there. The sheer energy and franticness can border on overwhelming but a breathtaking experience nonetheless. The ritual bathing by the side of the Gombak river, the prayers and preparation of the kavadis, the emotions running through the devotees, the loud chanting of vel, smoke, incense, sweat and most of all faith. Faith permeates the atmosphere, of which bearing the kavadi is itself the ultimate form of the faithful of their religion. From the giant kavadis weighing 70kg strapped to the shoulders and back of devotees, to the ritual piercings undergone by others and act of sheer disbelief such as walking in sharpened blades. All this may seem macabre but looking beyond the veneer of the act, one can appreciate the inner strength needed to accomplish what these people do. There can be so much said about the event but to truly understand it, one has to be there personally.

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Man taking ritual bath, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Kavadi bearer, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Kavadi bearer, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Girl having head shaved before carrying kavadi, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Man in trance, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Holding on to a kavadi bearer in trance, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Hooks sunk into the back of a devotee, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Oranges strung on the back of a devotee, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Woman bearing kavadi, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Closeup of a kavadi, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Devotee bearing kavadi, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

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Kid, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

2 comments:

anthonywong said...

hi, thanks for the images. They are very striking and original. i like that u have gone in close. with all the crowd and jostling u did very well to get such clear well focused pictures. cheers from anthony

Frank (frankklein @ addmissions.nl) said...

Hi,

My name is Frank and I'm setting up a prize question for my website about South East Asia.
Your photo's are great, would it be possible to use one in the prize question? The second "Kavadi bearer, Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia." would work really well.

Frank