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Each year I look forward to Thaipusam, a colourful celebration that is only celebrated in a few places around the world. The festival commemorates Murugan’s triumph over evil. Usually held in late January or early February depending on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai. It will next take place on 21 Jan 2019.

It is a 3-day spectacle, filled with percussion instruments, singing, incense-burning and dancing devotees on the streets.

Although it is a Tamil community festival, it is not uncommon to see people of all races and religions participating. Shop owners will set up water stops to help quench participants’ thirst along the procession route, while the others will buy coconuts to throw on the ground as a means to cleanse the pathway for Murugan.

Even young devotees like this boy participate in Thaipusam to receive blessings.

Body piercing ceremonies are common as a means of self-sacrifice. Devotees go into a trance during the process. These small metal items are then hooked on their skin all over their body.

Man carrying a kavadi. Kavadi bearers observe a strict routine of celibacy and meal consumption leading up to Thaipusam.

Another kavadi bearer deep in trance, with his entourage dancing to the beats of percussion music.


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