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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The costumes and dancing and excitement of young people and families was heart-warming.
So much color and so many people!
We learned more about the Tamil community, the God Murugan, and devotees carrying Kavadi ( burdens) that look like alters ( or the spears and hooks).
We enjoyed the music, rhythmic drumming with sticks and folk dancing.
Food, glorious, food and how the community worked so well together.
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.
Seeing whole families, young and old participating in this 10 hour journey between temples.
The joy, jewelry, sparkles and color.
Shaved heads of men, women and young children covered in sandalwood paste as a symbol of humility.
Endless photo opportunities and multicolored creativity.
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.
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.
Even these young boys were carrying their Kavadi.
The silver chariot here and the long procession reminded me some of the elaborate festivals in Spain like Semana Santa.
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.
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?