Thaipusam in Malaysia


Image Courtesy: Jay Zhang used under the Creative Commons Licence

Each year, more than a million Malaysian Hindus offer their gratitude to Lord Murugan (the youngest son of Shiva, also known as Subramaniam) for answering their prayers. A key Hindu ceremony in Malaysia, Thaipusam is held each year during the full moon in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar.

The grand celebrations take place outside Kuala Lumpur, at the Batu Caves, in the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple. Besides this, Hindus swarm to the Balathan­dayuthapani Temple or Waterfall Hill Temple in Penang, the Sri Subramaniya Swamy Temple in Sungai Petani, Kedah, and the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Ipoh.

In many states of Malaysia, Thaipusam is marked as public holiday. Parades and rituals take place on a grand scale, and devotees perform ceremonial acts. Thaipusam in Malaysia is also a day of penance. Devotees are seen carrying ornamental structures (kavadi) attached to their bodies, by inserting skewers and hooks, and invoking spirits in ways that might shock outsiders. Lord Murugan is offered fruits, and orange and yellow flowers, and dressed in similar coloured clothes as part of the traditional ceremony.

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