Thousands of devotees underwent rituals of pain and discipline during the festival of Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (17 January).
GV PAN Devotees bathing in river.
CU Devotee having Kavadi attached to his body.
CU PAN People clapping as another devotee has balls attached to his body. (2 shots)
SV AND CU Child having his head shaved. (2 shots)
TV Devotees carrying Kavadi.
CU Devotees with spears through their cheeks.
SV AND CU Procession arraying Kavadi en route to holy cave. (8 shots)
TGV Procession continues toward cave.
CU AND SV PAN Procession up steps to cave. (3 shots)
TGV Crowd following Kavadi.
SV AND LV Devotees carrying Kavadi enter cave. (2 shots)
Initials VS 21.45 VS 22.10
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Background: Thousands of devotees underwent rituals of pain and discipline during the festival of Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (17 January).
The festival has its roots in southern India, like most Malaysian Hindu rites.
It celebrates Siva's son, Lord Subramaniam, the god who destroys evil and dispenses blessings on those who worship him.
In special ceremonies called "Kavadis", thousands of professed sinners pierce their bodies with spikes and spears in acts of penance.
The festival begins before dawn when the faithful bathe themselves and prepare for the procession from Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves where more religious services are conducted.
Dedicated pilgrims carry the "Kavadi" a wooden, decorated platform that holds an image of Lord Subramaniam and religious implements.
The "Kavadi" is fixed into their shoulders and back by metal hooks which dig into the skin.
Those that carry the platform, enduring great physical abuse, gain the respect and admiration of the worshippers.
SYNOPSIS: The faithful gathered just outside Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to bathe themselves before celebrating the festival of Thaipusam. Thaipusam has its roots in southern India, like most Malaysian Hindu religious rites. The focal point of the celebrations is the Kavadi..... a decorated, wooden platform which houses an image of Siva's son, Lord Subramaniam.
Special devotees have the Kavadi attached to their bodies by metal hooks and carry it along its journey to the Batu Caves.
Lord Subramaniam is the god who destroys evil and dispenses blessings on those who worship him. Many thousands of pilgrims go through special acts of penance, including having spears and spikes piercing their bodies.
Hundreds of thousands of followers join in the procession that leads from Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves....where shrines dedicated to Lord Subramaniam have been erected.
Despite the festive atmosphere the occasion is profoundly serious.
For a vast number of pilgrims the Batu Caves are the Hindu counterpart of Lourdes.
Many devotees keep their reasons for participating to themselves, but simple atonement is a major motive at the Thaipusam rites -- whether for specific transgressions or for simple human frailty.
This annual rite also serves to unite the Hindus of Malaysia and to renew their long held traditions.
yet the ultimate meaning of Thaipusam is personal and private. Like the Muslim Ramadan or the Christian Lent, the rite affords a triumphant occasion for the individual spirit to subjugate the flesh.
Most Malaysian find it hard to convey the tremendous inner benefits they receive from Thaipusam. But many say it gives a feeling of beautiful peace.... a serenity that cannot be obtained in ordinary life.