|Photo © Andrea Orioli-All Rights Reserved|
The Thaipusam ritualistic event occurs 13 kilometres outside the Malaysian capital city, Kuala Lumpur in a sacred Hindu shrine called the Batu Caves.
The festival of Thaipusam was brought to Malaysia in the 1800s, when Indian immigrants started to work on the Malaysian rubber estates and the 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. The devotees perform “Kavadi”, an act of faith where they suffer the pain of dozens of hooks and spears piercing their body during the 272 steps that bring them to the cave temple.
Andrea Orioli photographed Thaipusam, and provides us with yet another view of these not-for-the-faint-of-heart rituals. He is a biologist working in Switzerland, and has had the good fortune of traveling widely and making photographs. Far more interested in people and cultures than anything else, he's passionate about documenting endangered cultures before they disappear.
He also has featured interesting galleries on his website, including one in Sumba (Indonesia) and another in Kyrgyzstan.