Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Luj Moarf: Thaipusam

The Hindu festival of Thaipusam is about faith, endurance, mortification and penance. In Malaysia, it's an intensely devotional event which can stretch for 3 or 4 days, and is attended by about a million and a half people each year. It's a time for Hindus of all castes and cultures to be grateful to Murugan, a son of Shiva.

It was brought to Malaysia in the 1800s by Indian immigrants working on Malaysian rubber estates and in its government offices. The festival is celebrated mostly by the Tamil community, and commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a spear to vanquish the evil demon Soorapadam.

On the day of the festival, devotees shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of heavy burdens, while others may carry out acts of self mortification by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with skewers and sharp hooks. Not for the faint of heart.

Faith-Thaipusam is a 5 minutes video by a photographer called Luj Moarf who describes himself as a traveller, wandering into the world discovering places and people.

Some of the rituals followed during Thaipusam, including the red garments worn by some of the devotees, reminded me of The Oracles of Kodungallur.