Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thaipusam in Malaysia


You pride yourself on being an offbeat traveler. On taking the road less travelled, each time. You actively seek to reach out to the unknown, bravely traversing untouched landscapes and looking for views hidden from prying eyes. If you are this kind of traveler, the Malaysian festival of Thaipusam is for you. It might not feature all most travel itineraries, considering this is not the kind of festival that attracts the normal luxury traveler. Thaipusam has its roots in ancient history and is seeped in tradition and rituals, a sight to behold if you go into the details.
1 million or more devotees are present at this festival making it a grand celebration that happens at the Batu caves. The history of this festival is peppered with fantastic tales of bravery and devotion, values that come to the forefront during this time of celebration.
The festivities begin with family members, devotees and supporters gathering at a temple in the city of Kuala Lumpur. The crowd ambles along at a leisurely pace but the sights are mesmerizing. Devotees carry a kavadi or a pot of milk on their shoulder during this 11km walk. This pot of milk can also be a huge container and, this is not for the squeamish, it is pulled along through 108 vels pierced into the skin of the back and chest. All members performing this ritual are accompanied by family members who support them. Coconuts are smashed along the way as well. If this has you cringing at the thought of the pain involved, prepare to be surprised. Most devotees claim their devotion is so intense, they don’t feel the pain. After the walk, the devotees make a tough climb up 272 steps to the Batu cave where other ceremonies are performed.
The entire festival is worth waiting for and is guaranteed to leave you spellbound. Something for your bucket list? 

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