Worshipping the God of War -Thaipusam 2012

Thaipusam happens on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai. On this day, thousands of Hindu Devotees honors Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
It is believed that on this day, Parvati presented a spear to Murugan to vanquish an evil demon and combat its evil deeds.
Therefore, Thaipusam is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

Devotees prepare for Thaipusam by fasting for about a month or even longer.
On the day of the festival, they shave their heads, bear pots of milk, smash coconuts, pierce their bodies with sharp objects, carry kevadis and undertake a pilgrimage from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at 397 Serangoon Road in the Little India district and concluding at Sri Thandayuthapani Temple on 15 Tank Road which is about five kilometers long.

A 4 meters cloth that is rolled and wrapped really tightly around the stomach of those carrying the kevadis.

The cloth has to be tight as it is going to be the base support for the entire kevadi.

A kavadi can weigh up to 30KG!

The piercing are normally done by the bearer’s friends and family

Usually the cheek and tongue piercing are the ones that hurt the most

A crowd of onlookers gathers as the kevadi bearers makes their way out of the temple

They dance to make sure the piercing do not fall off before setting off

Some piercing are really elaborate and each represents the faith they have in their god

Most of the times, their supporters would break into songs and dance along the way

Kevadi dance off at a section of the journey

Even babies join the fun!

Of all the events and festivals I covered so far as a photographer, I got to say that I love Thaipusam. I love the people, the energy and the overall spirit of the festival.

“This is the only time when one Indian steps on another Indian’s foot, they apologize to each other. Other times, they will fight.” 

I was probably 3 months into photography when I first covered Thaipusam.
It was one of those spontaneous moments of my life where I went, lets do something crazy and cover a festival!
Back then, I was still struggling with my craft and have not got a clue as to what to expect. All I knew was that there will be people there and people is good.
So I went with my lovely mentor Mathias, and due to kiasu-ism carried a shit load of gear weighing a ton in my bag that allowed me to shoot birds and beyond.

When we got to the venue, we had to take our shoes off. I did that and cleverly left my socks on thinking that it will ‘protect my feet’ from god knows what I was walking on.

Mistake number one. I stepped on a puddle of water…

Walking with wet socks on was absolutely disgusting. I was surrounded by barefooted people left, right and center and was so embarrassed as I saw how stupid my brilliant plan to ‘protect’ my feet was. I bended over, peeled off my socks and stuffed it in my Billingham. Bless that bag of mine.

Mat was probably laughing but I was terrified because I was in a completely different element! Heck I was shooting dolls just a couple of months back and now I am surrounded by a sea of Indians shouting, falling into trances and the only red Indian Chinese in sight told me:

Whatever you do, don’t get too close to them or not they will grab you and start piercing you.

I love my mentor…

I kind of screwed up this year by getting the timings wrong… I feel that my images are not as strong as compared to last year and just did not flow well:(
But ah wells. I guess I just have to stop complaining, get my butt out and start shooting.

When all is said and done, who is interested in a glamor photography session with me 8D Sorry guys, female only

Many thanks to this awesome group<3

0 replies »

  1. A well document on the subject. I am fascinated about this subject but have not had a chance to witness the spiritual event in real life. Thank you for sharing those wonderful photos.

    • Thank you so much!
      Thaipusam is a festival that I look forward to every year.
      I’ll be documenting the Thai Water Festival soon so you can look out for that post in about 2 weeks from now<3

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