Today is an extraordinary day for our Hindu brothers in Malaysia and Singapore. The celebration of Thaipusam Kavady – the feast for the Lord Subramaniam (Murugan), the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati. This is the day when the star Pusam appears.
Hindus in Singapore show their devotion by walking 3 kilometers from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Chettiar Temple, carrying offerings to Lord Subramaniam. Hindus in Malaysia gather in Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Gunong Cheroh in Ipoh and Jalan Waterfall in Penang. This is one of the biggest annual-tourist-c’mon of Malaysia.
A day of thanks giving, asking favors, and simply wishing good things. The air is festive and everybody is in a good mood.
You think that’s it? Well, listen to this…some devotees would raise the stakes to get the Lord Subramaniam’s favor. They would pierce pins, fish hooks, knives, swords and just about any skewers in sight into their cheeks, back, arms, legs and even testicles! *Ouch! Stop poking me, goddammit!*
But here’s the kicker. With all those piercing and poking, there is no bleeding at all! Not even scars afterwards! It is said that Lord Subramaniam stops the bleeding and heals the wounds as if nothing happened at all.
The Thaipusam Festival was brought to our region by Tamil/Hindu immigrants in the British Colonial era. It is celebrated on the full moon of the Hindu month of Thai, which falls around January and February. There is also a similar festival in Thailand called the "Vegetarian Festival" in Phuket. But that happens around November.
This is one festival in our region that takes nerves and lots of faith *and guts!* Let me show you what I'm talking about...
Here... but not for the faint-hearted...