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World's Best Festival? Stunning Photos!

February 27, 2013

Amazing, colorful, exotic  world festival

As we've traveled the world non-stop these past 7-plus years, we've seem some amazing festivals around the world from famous Semana Santa in Seville and Andalusia, women riding wild horses in Provence, Diwali,3 KIngs/Los Reyes Magos, Ramadan, Carnival, spectacular Horse FairHalloweenChinese New Year in Asia, Eid ul-Fitr, Christmas abroad and many more.

Eid ul-Fitr
Eid ul-Fitr
Eid ul-Fitr
Eid ul-Fitrand many more.


We were all quite blown away by the surreal, colorful, exotic festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia which was like taking a trip to India and deeply exploring the Hindu culture. I hope you enjoy these stunning photos and there are more coming!

Indian folk Dancing at this world festival

We have been here before during Thaipusam, but I had seen photos of the extremely painful looking piercings and I am so empathetic, I didn't think we could go as it also didn't seem like family friendly entertainment and I was hesitant to infringe.

Thaipusam festival hooks pierced into back pulling large alter in trance

I was wrong though and I am really glad we experienced this amazing, three day festival which is one of the biggest ( and most bizarre) in Asia.

tranced out Thaipusam devotee with piercings in mouth, face and back

The piercing photos grab the attention of most travel bloggers or photographers that go, and that certainly is fascinating, but the festival is so much more and watching the devotees in a deep trance with the piercings is actually easier in person than via photos.

I didn't want to intrude on their sacred ceremony rituals, but they seem to actually enjoy photographers.

colorful festival food in huge pots

The bountiful, spicy, free food alone, all along the sacred long procession road is amazing, not to mention the colorful saris and Indian clothes.   How many pots this size have you seen?

festival offering devotional basket

 The devotion shown in so many ways like all of these offering baskets of simple, pretty, natural things, given with sacred symbolic meaning and love, was touching even to an outsider. 

 

colorful folk dancing group at festival

The costumes and dancing and excitement of young people and families was heart-warming.

colorful celebrants at festival

So much color and so many people!

Colorful Indian festival

We learned more about the Tamil community, the God Murugan,  and devotees carrying Kavadi ( burdens) that look like alters ( or the spears and hooks).

Hindu Thaipusam Kavadi devotee

We enjoyed the music, rhythmic drumming with sticks and folk dancing.


folk dancing

Food, glorious, food and how the community worked so well together.


colorful festival clothes and food line

Perhaps the most touching, was how much love and caring was given to support those that were in a trance and carried heavy burdens in the heat on the long walk/procession  between temples.

Thaipusam devotee being helped by friends in Penang

Seeing whole families, young and old participating in this 10 hour journey between temples.

father and son Thaipusam hooks and piercing

The joy, jewelry, sparkles and color.

Indian girl face in traditional festival make up and jewels

Shaved heads of men, women and young children covered in sandalwood paste as a symbol of humility.

Thaipusam shaved heads

Endless photo opportunities and multicolored creativity.

colorful horse folk dancer

Soooo many coconuts on the street as the custom is to break one for good luck. Smashing them symbolizes breaking the ego and revealing the purity inside.

Thaipusam coconuts on street

We have a few Indian Malaysian friends here and our daughter enjoys an Indian teacher in her Mandarin school who she was looking for during this festival, but we had never seen so much of the Indian community together like this as we know mostly Chinese in Penang.

Indians with offerings at the temple

Even these young boys were carrying their Kavadi.

young boys with Kavadi

The silver chariot here and the long procession reminded me some of the elaborate festivals in Spain like Semana Santa.


Thaipusam Penang with silver chariot and offerings

Yes, indeed.

Mozart and I enjoying the festival madness in the hot sun

We were very honored to be part of the Thaipusam festival this year and found it to be family friendly with many fantastic world school opportunities for Mozart to learn more about this culture and religion first hand.

families enjoying Thaipusam

Like China, India is rising, so an important culture to know more about. Thaipusam in Penang ( and the throngs of people here and in KL participating) lets one know just how many Indian Malaysians are here and how connected the community is.

"A nations's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people." Gandhi

Do you like festivals? What festivals have you enjoyed while traveling?

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Suzie

What a stunning set of pictures! Looking through them brought back great memories of traveling in India and actually living in Malaysia for a while. Really getting to know a little about the Indian culture and way of life can really add an extra dimension to your own life experiences. Thanks for sharing!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Glad you liked them Suzie!

Mandy Love

Cool article! That was one BIG pot of curry :-) Looks like fun. Nice perspective of sharing the things that most don't imagine being a part of in their travels!

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