Feb 08 2012

Photo essay: Thaipusam 2012 at Batu Caves

Published by at 3:26 am under Festivals


For three days every year, the Batu Caves temple complex is at the centre of Malaysia’s most extraordinary religious event — the Hindu festival of Thaipusam.

Stormy skies fail to dampen the mood.

Stormy skies fail to dampen the mood.

On the first day, a procession wends its way from central Kuala Lumpur to the complex, which is about 15km to the north. Setting off just after midnight, it takes more than 14 hours to reach the approach road to Batu Caves.

The procession nears the end of its long journey.

The procession nears the end of its long journey.

Pride of place in the procession goes to a silver chariot carrying an idol of Lord Murugan, the deity whose victory over an evil demon Thaipusam celebrates.

Lord Murugan on his silver chariot.

Lord Murugan on his silver chariot.

Tens of thousands of people line the route of the procession, often waiting hours for a glimpse of the chariot. Many have offerings for Lord Murugan such as flowers and fruit.

The wait is nearly over.

The wait is nearly over.

Over the three days, between 700,000 and a million people throng Batu Caves, a veritable sea of humanity. No other festival in Malaysia can match the sheer size, colour and energy of Thaipusam.

The crush to get into Batu Caves.

The crush to get into Batu Caves.

Batu Caves becomes a massive bazaar for the duration of the festival, offering everything from vegetarian food to budget flights to India. Somehow, all this commerce does not detract from the religious essence of Thaipusam.

A festival in all senses of the word.

A festival in all senses of the word.

By the massive golden statue of Lord Murugan, is the final ordeal — 272 steps up to the main cave temple.

Lord Murugan awaits the procession.

Lord Murugan awaits the procession.

The left hand lane is reserved for people carrying kavadis — a cross between a burden and an offering. They are a way of asking for divine favour, or offering gratitude for an already granted favour.

The final climb.

The final climb.

Kavadis — most commonly pails of milk — are also a way of making penance for past misdeeds.

The most common kavadi -- a pail of milk.

The most common kavadi -- a pail of milk.

Many people shave their heads in honour of Thaipusam. Another popular activity associated with the festival, particularly on the third day, is to smash coconuts.

A smashing bunch of coconuts.

A smashing bunch of coconuts.

Nothing can prepare a first time visitor for the sights, the smells, the crowds, the exuberance of Thaipusam at Batu Caves.

We also covered what happened in Singapore for Thaipusam yesterday.

No responses yet

More still
» Previous post:
» Next post:

Disclaimer
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.

Tags:

Agoda logo
best price guarantee

Leave a Reply