Ok ok, so with apols for the delay on these I’ve finally gotten around to sorting through our hundreds of pics from the incredible Hindu festival we butted in on last weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Thaipusam at the Batu Caves.
It was absolutely and completely bonkers, honestly one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.
Hundreds of thousands of people walk the 15km from central KL to the caves barefoot, starting at 3am. The idea behind the festival is that the skewers and hooks in people’s skin are penance for past deeds, and the limes, jugs of milk balanced on heads and little mini thimbles of milk hooked onto the flesh are given as offerings inside the caves. Lots of the devotees shave their heads and smear them in a yellow powder as a sign of sacrifice – we saw a lot of women who’d done this too, an absolutely incredible sacrifice in my opinion (but I guess I am quite vain about my hair, ahem).
There were lots and lots of the kavadi burdens that are carried on the shoulders, covered in the most exquisite peacock feathers, flower garlands and sacred images. The people bearing these arrive at the caves already exhausted and then have to walk up the 272 steps to the central cavern.
Inside the caves, the kavadi are set down, people’s wounds are treated with sacred ash and I think lemon juice, then people proceed to the temples to pray and then burn their offerings.
Honestly, it was just mind-boggling, both the scale and colour of the festival and the level of devotion and sacrifice of the penitents. If you ever get the chance to go see this firsthand you must go!!
It’s not an enormous surprise…but I’ve been hankering after some vibrant colour and Indian textiles since we got home – make sure you stop by tomorrow for my round up!