Thaipusam is a religious festival celebrated on a large scale by most Hindus in states like KL and Penang in Malaysia. If you ever have the chance to be in Penang during a Thaipusam festival, I’d strongly encourage you to visit. It is one of the most lavishly decorated festival on a few public roads packed full of devotees and tourists.

A few major roads in Penang are closed to traffic to allow people to walk freely on the roads for good reasons. There are lines of  thaneer panthel (refreshment stalls) erected with colorfully painted plywood and garlanded with leaves. Its such a major festival that many corporate companies sponsor such booths to provide (usually) free refreshments such as drinks and food to passersby.  Loud music is often played throughout the day as well and you get mini crowds of people spontaneously bursting into dance.

One of the most interesting aspects of Thaipusam is that devotees fulfill their vows and show thanks by different ways. Many carry kavadis that can be as simple as a pot of milk, more ornately built canopies decorated with  religious deities to body mortification (piercing the skin with hooks). Please be warned that some of the images below might be graphic:


Painting with light – haha, my shadow across an usually car-free road


Temple priest blessing devotees. The priest was kind enough to ask if I wanted to be blessed and I went ahead with it.


Playing with slow sync


The tiny pots of milk are actually hung onto his skin by hooks in addition to the spears through his cheek


I love the simplicity of this


He was really friendly & smiled when I gestured with my camera




Painted kolams




She looks really calm and at peace while receiving blessings


More photos at the link to my flickr.


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