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Friday February 2, 2007

1.3 million mark Thaipusam

Thaipusam 2007 | Thaipusam 2006 

Thaipusam 2006 at Batu Caves: Media Player | Real Video
Thaipusam 2006 at Penang: Media Player 

KUALA LUMPUR: A sea of people flooded Batu Caves here yesterday as some 1.3 million people celebrated Thaipusam. 

The vibrant and colourful festival saw many Hindu devotees carrying kavadis and milk pots up the 272 steps of the caves to fulfil their vows. 

Religious ritual: Devotees bearing kavadis and offerings taking part in a procession during the Thaipusam festival celebration at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
There was a carnival-like atmosphere on the grounds as there was a Ferris wheel and thrilling rides besides the colourful stalls that sold clothes and food. 

British tourist Nicola Jolly, 21, described Thaipusam as magnificent. 

The religious studies graduate was amazed at the sight of devotees carrying the kavadi with their multiple body piercings.  

“I felt that the devotees must really have strong faith in their religion to perform such acts. It is a totally different experience seeing it with my own eyes than reading it in a book,” she said. 

Cassei Yang, 27, and Nelson Zhang, 29, from Shandong, China, were excited about their first Thaipusam experience.  

Faithful steps: Virappan walking calmly in his ‘slippers of nails’ to fulfil his vow to Lord Murugan in Penang.
“I heard of this festival from a friend and I was curious about the culture and traditions behind this religious celebration,” said Yang. 

In PENANG, thousands of devotees and tourists thronged Jalan Utama and Waterfall Road as they made their way up the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple. 

Bearing elaborately decorated kavadis and milk pots, the devotees embarked on the spiritual journey with their bodies pierced by hooks and spears.  

Amidst loud chants of “vel-vel”, A. Virappan, 57, walked calmly in his “slippers of nails” .  

“I was on a three-day vegetarian diet so I feel no pain. 

“Years ago I made a vow to Lord Murugan to heal my leg, which aches each time I walk, and he has done so. This is my second year fulfilling my vow and I will continue walking in these slippers during Thaipusam for as long as I can,” he said. 

Each slipper had 1,000 nails sticking upright, pricking his feet with every slow step forward.  

Among those with their bodies pierced were friends Britons Alex Catchipole, 25, and Letchmi Love, 35. 

The two came all the way from England to participate in the festival. 

Love also had his body pierced last year during the festival in Penang. 

The yoga practitioner said he had a vision of Lord Siva asking him to be part of the Thaipusam festival. 

In IPOH, a large crowd of devotees thronged the Sri Subramaniar Temple at Gunung Cheroh.  

The faithful, including non-Hindus, walked barefoot for several kilometres to the 102-year-old temple to pray to the deity. 

Temple secretary P. Palaiya said that about 250,000 devotees participated in the festival this year, including 300 kavadi bearers, while 15,000 came with milk offerings.  

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