Malaysia is a land of diversity, where many different cultures, beliefs and traditions coexist to form a nation that strives to modernization and keeps unity as its strongest foundation. If you visit Malaysia, you will definitely be able to enjoy some festivals or events. If you are here in late January, you will get the chance to celebrate the festival of Thaipusam with the locals.
Thaipusam is a very important Hindu ceremony held yearly on the tenth month of the Hindu calendar. This usually falls in the middle of January or February and Malaysians get a day or two of public holiday from the government to celebrate this festival. The festival is to commemorate the acts of thanksgiving to Lord Subramaniam for helping them, answering prayers as well as for Hindu devotees to make penance.
Things to See during Thaipusam in Malaysia
This festival is a very interesting one which you have to go to Batu Caves, the most famous cave and location for the devotees in the land and across Asia to perform ceremonial acts. Batu Caves is located just outside the city of Kuala Lumpur and the caves are jam packed on Thaipusam every year. Here, you can see many rituals being performed. At the foot of the cave, there will be parades and processions by devotees, some of them making penance with hooks, steel spikes and other objects penetrating their body. You can also see many devotees carrying small pots of milk to go up the stairs of the temple to bathe a statue of Lord Subramaniam. Some also carry ornamental structures on their bodies. These are called kavadi and they are very heavy to carry. It definitely is a very unique experience as you see how the faith of devotees drives them against all odds to make it up the steps.
Things to Do during Thaipusam in Malaysia
You can also be a part of the ceremony. Visitors are welcomed to make offerings to the various shrines in the famous Batu Caves. You can visit the caves on another day when it is less pack but the real highlights of the cave are better seen on Thaipusam day. Brave the crowds and make it up the 272 stone stairs where you can see the altar and the many offerings that have already been made; mostly oranges, fruits and yellow flowers. Stand beside the tall statue of Lord Subramaniam and capture just how tall and magnificent this entire scene is. This statue was unveiled in late 2006. As you mingle with the devotees who come here, you can hear their stories and testimonies.
Visit other Hindu temples around the country as well and be amazed at how grand the festival is. There are many Hindu temples across the country that you can pay a visit. Fire walking is a common ritual practice during the festival of Thaipusam and if you are up to it you can try this out too. Like all other festivals, the Thaipusam is also about the food and you can try out many types of food at the temple.
Traveling during Thaipusam
Traveling in Malaysia during Thaipusam will be quite hard especially if you are traveling in the city or near any major temple in the country. However, most other parts of the country will be quite free flowing. The congestion and action is mostly at the famous Batu Caves. You can hire a taxi or rent a car to make your way to the caves.
Where to Stay in Malaysia during Thaipusam
Finding a place to stay during Thaipusam will be quite difficult especially near to the Hindu temple. Many hotels may be on peak season but it is definitely worth the try. Staying in Kuala Lumpur is a good decision as it will take you only a short drive to Batu Caves. Staying in Ipoh is also a good choice. Ipoh is home to many major Hindu temples and you can stay in the centre of Ipoh and get access to the temples as well as the major tourist destinations in Ipoh.