Thaipusam is a Hindu festival in honour of Lord Subramaniam, son of Shiva, and is a day of purification and penance during which devotees make offerings of thanks for blessings received through fulfilment of vows. The festival centres on the two-mile (4km) procession of penitents who carry ‘kavadis’ (large wood or metal frames) hung with offerings such as milk, honey or flowers and decorated with bells and peacock feathers. These loaded shrines are gruesomely supported by heavy spikes, hooks and barbs driven into their bodies, and some participants pierce their tongues and cheeks with skewers and spikes. Supporters will gather around the devotees chanting prayers and encouraging them along the way. Devotees undergo a period of spiritual preparation before the procession and enter a trance-like state in order to tolerate the pain involved.
Venue: Procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple
Date: 7 February 2012