|2014||17 January||Friday||Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya,
Kedah, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak,
Penang & Selangor
Thaipusam is a key Hindu ceremony that is held each year during the full moon in the tenth month of the Hindu calendar – Thai – falling from mid-January to mid-February in the Gregorian calendar. It is marked in Malaysia by a public holiday.
Thaipusam is celebrated by the Hindu people of South India and the mainly Tamil-speaking Hindu communities throughout Malaysia. Thaipusam is dedicated as a thanksgiving to Lord Subramaniam (also known as Murugan) for answered prayers, and is also a day of penance.
Thaipusam is usually celebrated with a public holiday in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang and Selangor only.
At Thaipusam, parades and rituals are held across the country, with devotees performing ceremonial acts at different locations – the most famous being at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur where more than one million people gather on Thaipusam each year. Tourists flock to see the colours, noise and activities of Thaipusam.
“The most spectacular, colourful and dramatic part, much photographed by tourists, is when devotees who have made a vow during the past year, redeem it by carrying ornamental structures (kavadi) attached to their bodies by hooks and steel spikes that penetrate their flesh. The kavadi also contain two small pots of milk, which are used to bathe a statue of Lord Subramaniam. The devotees coat their bodies with holy ash, wear saffron robes, and may insert metal skewers through their cheeks and tongues.” –Culture Smart Malaysia
Devotees offer Lord Subramaniam orange and yellow flowers and fruit, and dress in orange and yellow clothing as part of the ceremony. Offerings are made to many different shrines, however the most famous is at the Batu Caves where a massive 42.7-metre statue of Lord Subramaniam was unveiled in 2006. Devotees climb a staircase of 272 stone stairs into the limestone of Batu Caves, where a number of caverns exist and house the shrines.