Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Burdened Journey

The second day of Thaipusam is even more spectacular than the first! On Day 2, Lord Murugan has already made his journey to the Hindu temple near the waterfall on Penang Hill. Now, devotees carry burdens and offerings to Lord Murugan to ask for blessings. Here is Jennifer and Craig standing next to three worshippers on their way to the temple. These fruits are attached to their skin by tiny hooks!

Here's a look at another worshipper. Yes, that spear is piercing both of his cheeks! The three-pronged spear this man is carrying represents the weapon that Lord Murugan used to defeat the Asuras in the war in heaven. This worshipper also has hooks in his back with a string attached to each one. His friend pulls on those strings the entire trip to Penang Hill.

In preparation for the trek to Penang Hill, these worshippers will fast for 48 days, eating only certain foods once per day. They are put into a sort of trance, then their piercings are put on. Because of their preparation, they feel little or no pain, even when pulling a large cart up the hill like the Chinese man pictured above. Yup, this is a Hindu festival, but all are welcome to participate!

Each of these silver containers is loaded with either milk or honey. Once this man reaches the statue of Lord Murugan, he will "unburden" himself by taking off all of the hooks and leaving the milk and honey in the temple as an offering.

Some worshippers carry a kavadi up to the waterfall temple. A kavadi, like the one pictured above, represents a burden or affliction. By taking up a kavadi, the bearer earns blessings from Lord Murugan.

The path to the waterfall is lined with temporary shrines to Hindu deities. Those carrying kavadis stop at these shrines and dance.

The Indians living in Malaysia love to share their culture, and one way to experience Indian culture is through their traditional clothing. A lot of families stopped to get their picture taken with Jennifer all decked out in her pink sari.

Watching the procession for Thaipusam is a bit like participating in an article written for the National Geographic magazine. We loved being part of the culture and being welcomed into the celebration.

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