Thaipusam – Penang
It was a pretty wild weekend. Some 800,000 Hindu Tamil and Chinese devotees of Muruga (also called Subramaniam), the Hindu God of War, gathered in Penang to celebrate Thaipusam. The festival celebrates the birthday of Muruga, the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Muruga a vel (spear) so he could vanquish an evil demon. All day on Friday and Saturday devotees would carry a kavadi or a burden up to the temple on the hillside. Most of the kavadis were pails of milk to pour over the idol but others, the more dramatic were elaborate carriages, some quite large and more often with hook and spears in their skin. This is all to entreat Muruga for help or power over something in the worshipers life. There were many times when the devotees would enter into trance like states and, as I was told, Muruga would enter them. When this happened their was much screaming and flailing and then after some time the devotee would slump over with exhaustion. One Tamil man heard me getting this explanation and interjected, that in fact, these people were screaming not because they were being possessed by Muruga, but by an evil spirit. He said, if it was Muruga they would be weeping with great joy. I don’t know, who it was, all I can say is it scared the crap out of me. I hope to be doing a multimedia presentation in the days to come. A buddy of mine, Bruce Watson got some great 5D MKII (not mine) footage and I hope to combine our efforts. Here are just a few images to wet your appetite.