February 11, 2007

pins and needles

Here's for all of you who have not had the time, guts or plain not bothered to attend a thaipusam ceremony. I was one of those ignorant fools who knew loads about thaipusam not because of self experience but from watching Lonely Planet on Discovery Channel and watching them tell me, a Malaysian, what and how thaipusam was really like.

Fortunately the visiting of two aussie friends caused me to get off my lazy butt and make an effort to witness this most amazing, colourful, bizarre Hindu celebration held annually at Batu Caves. The experience was magnificent. I have never ever rubbed shoulders with so many people at once (I mean that literally)! The crowd there was just indescribable. We had to queue for almost an hour an half to get to the foot of the stairs after a lot of shoving, pushing, elbowing, squashing, climbing through barricades, suffocating from heat and lack of oxygen (it's good to be 6 feet tall if you're going to 'join the crowd'. above heads is the only place with fresh oxygenated air!) and smelling the strong smell of incense mixed with the sourness of sweat and body ordour.

After all said and done, it was a once in a life time experience and i would never ever forget it. I would recommend people who have a sense of adventure and a curiosity in the bizarre and amazing to go at least once to a thaipusam celebration. If you're not..then watching it on Lonely Planet is sufficient enough to capture the pictorial essence of it all. Here are some pics i took with my handy dandy sony ericsson k610i.

There were loads of tongue and cheek piercing, hooking of fruit and 'reins' on the back of devotees and carrying of kavadis and milk filled jugs. The devotees on 'reins' i reckon, has to be the most disturbing sight. The devotees hook ropes to their backs and either a friend or a volunteer pulls him by the ropes as if he was a wild animal on the loose. Most of the devotees on 'reins' were totally in a trance and had no visible trace of pain and seemed completely oblivous of the crowd around them. There was one who actually ran amok and had to restrained by the 'reins'. Absolutely chilling to the bones!

This is all i can possibly describe in words. The sights and sounds have to be experienced by you actually being there. So...till the next update...Le Amour!

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