Thaipusam Festival


Tamil and Chinese devotees of Muruga, the Hindu God of War, gathered in Penang, Malaysia, to celebrate Thaipusam. Devotees would carry a kavadi or a burden up to the temple on a 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 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.

Malaysia, Penang, Thaipusam 2011 – Images by Matt Brandon

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