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Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil

 
 

In Malaysia, Thaipusam is a Hindu Festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community. Every year, devotees gather at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur to honor Lord Murugan, the destroyer of evil.

Many devotees carry silver urns of fresh milk on their head and walk to the caves in thanks for any children born that year. Devotees who have committed misdeeds or feel unworthy of God carry “kavadis,” large decorated shrines that are supported around the bearer’s waist. Many of these kavidis weigh upwards from 100-150 lbs and have to be manhandled up the temple steps. Kavadi-bearers fast for 48 days in advance, eating only sattvic food once a day, and enter into a trance-like state before making the short pilgrimage. This penance also involves passing small spears through their tongues and cheeks, a practice believed to give great power of endurance. Other body piercings performed include metal hooks with limes, oranges, or small urns.

Lucas Veuve is a photographer based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Devotees take a ritual shower before starting their pilgrimage to Batu Caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
A young devotee has his tongue pierced as it is believed to give great power of endurance.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
A devotee dancing with his Kavadi whilst in a trance.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
A devotee praying before starting his ascent up to Batu Caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
A devotee in a trance tearing a coconut with his teeth, to symbolize “the breaking of one’s ego to reveal purity inside.”
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
A devotee dances energetically to the beat of traditional drums whilst in a trance.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
A devotee and his entourage prepare for his pilgrimage to Batu Caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Devotees carry urns of milk and one family member (center) bears a ornate Kavadi.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Devotees carrying silver urns of milk as they wait to ascend to Batu Caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Hindu devotees of all ages climb the steep stairs to Batu Caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
An exhausted devotee makes his way up the final steps to enter the caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Large crowds gather inside the main chamber of Batu Caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Family members help remove the Kavadi and piercings from a devotee inside the caves.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Inside the caves, family members help remove the devotees' piercings.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
Thaipusam in Malaysia: Honoring the Destroyer of Evil
Large crowds gather all night to witness the elaborate Kavadis overlooked by the statue of Lord Murugan.
Image Credit: Lucas Veuve
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