The New Year doesn't truly kick-off in Penang until the spectacle of Thaipusam - the largest Hindu festival celebrated on the island, in honor of the god, Murugan. Leading up to the event, pilgrims will express their devotion through prayers, fasting, and offerings, which culminate in a three day festival beginning on January 19th, 2011. The highlight of the festival is a chariot procession where devotees can be seen breaking tens of thousands of coconuts in the streets, and bearing a "Kavadi" (burden) along the route to Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple. The Kavadi may mean something as simple as carrying a pot of milk, but in some extreme acts of piety, followers will pierce their faces and bodies with hooks and spears.
Mark & I will be joining the fun of smashing coconuts tomorrow. See you there!
Best places to experience Thaipusam:
- Around noon on January 19th in front of Nagarathar Sivan Temple (across from Times Square) on Jalan Dato Keramat. Devotees will smash thousands of coconuts on the street!
- Around 10pm (Jan 19) until sunrise (Jan 20), along the procession route starting from Lorong Kulit off Jalan Dato Keramat near the city stadium (where you will see devotees going into trances and piercing themselves), following Jalan Utama, and then finishing at Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple on Jalan Waterfall. Thousands of devotees can be seen bearing their "Kavadi".