LATE JANUARY OR EARLY FEBRUARY (DEPENDENT ON THE TAMIL CALENDAR).
ERM, WE MIGHT SIT THIS ONE OUT.
Deep breaths; this gnarly festival isn’t a stickler for audience participation. THAT’S A RELIEF. NOW WHAT
ON EARTH IS GOING ON?
Thaipusam is observed around the world where there are significant Hindu Tamil populations. The celebrations centre around the remembrance of Lord Murugan, a Hindu god of war. He was apparently responsible for killing demons, thus demonstrating the triumph of good over evil.
SURE, BUT WHERE DOES THE WHOLE SKEWER THROUGH SKIN BIT COME IN?
The extreme flagellation is a way of showing atonement for sins and a commitment to overcoming temptations. The devotees carry their kavadi (burden) from Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves (approximately 9km) balanced on the piercings in their bodies. Once at the caves, they offer their burden to the gods and pledge their fidelity to family and divinities. It’s a custom passed down from generation to generation, and despite the somewhat gruesome nature of the event, you’ll see all members of the family getting involved, all the way from children to grandparents.