Friday, 5 February 2010

Thaipusam - religious devotion

The Hindu Gods watch over the religious ceremonies dressed in resplendent saffron and yellow silk, the favourite colours of Lord Murugan.Smashing coconuts is the most common ritual in the Hindu religion, performed before embarking on any significant event as a symbol of humbling oneself before God.
Ablution or cleansing oneself before entering a temple or place of worship is practiced by many religions. Young and old show their devotion by carrying pots of milk and chanting prayers.

The scents and aroma of incense intoxicate the air.
Priests solemnise the ceremony. . .

Devotees prepare themselves for the penance by prayer, vegetarian diet and sometimes . . . 'a little bit of help from my friends', being a bonus. (I'm sure this ciggy is not a regular Benson & Hedges) With up-rolled eyes he inhales taking the next step towards his goal. . .

A woman in a trance-like state emerges seemingly in a festive mood but definitely in her own world. With eyes rolling and tongue protruding out she carries her pot of milk, surprisingly not spilling a drop!

It would seem that those on the quest hold a lofty position and blessings from such individuals are sought after.

With correct preparation and faith, a sense of peace envelops the devotees as they submit themselves to a higher presence and in a meditative state they carry out their pledges.

The moment over and the task achieved, devotees descend and slip back to this world, proud and happy.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Thaipusam - the vow

Thaipusam, a Hindu festival celebrated by Tamils, represents a tapestry of astrology, thanks-giving, religious devotion and commemoration of Lord Murugan's birthday.

Devotees give thanks in various forms from the carrying of small to large, heavily decorated kavadis.
The offering is made in the form of a vow for tiding over or averting great calamity or misfortune.

Vows range from shaving of the head . . .. . . carrying a pot of milk . . .
. . . 'mortification of the flesh' with body piercings of the skin, tongue or cheeks.
This vow was made by a young couple carrying their baby slung over sugar cane poles up the 272 steps of Batu Caves as thanks-giving for fertility or health of the baby.