Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country, so 365 days a year there are festivals and celebrations. You will have the opportunity to experience the traditional festivals of all ethnic groups in Malaysia. Although Penang is an island, but if there is a celebration or event, it must be crowded and lively! The Thaipusam, celebrated by Tamils, takes place every year in the 10th month of the Tamil calendar, and this year’s Thaipusam falls on February 8th.
The Tamils believed in Hinduism, and Hindus have three gods, namely, Brahma, the god of creation, Vishnu, the god of protection, and Shiva, the god of destruction.
The Origin of Thaipusam
The Thaipusam is a festival for believers to repent and practice their promises. The origin of the Day is a celebration by the Hindus to celebrate the birthday of Murugan, the young son of Shiva and Parvati, and his success in defeating the evil demons. Another story is that Lord Murugan inherited the general power from his father on this day.
The Custom of Thaipusam
Confessors must follow the religious discipline, practice abstinence and vegetarianism for 1 month before participating in this celebration. In addition, before carrying Kavadi on his back, all confessors must receive the admonitions of the temple priests and fasting for 24 hours to purify the body and mind.
The Ritual of Thaipusam
There are many rituals of worship, but the most common are the devotees use silver needles to pierce the tongue, cheeks, etc., or to embed numerous small iron hooks in the back, each with a thick rope tied at the end and pulled by one person at the back. Some believers also carry a huge steel bow-shaped chain, which is Kavadi, and then march from one temple to another for prayer and sacrifice.
In addition, on the day of the celebration, you will see many people on both sides of the street breaking coconuts, it means breaking the self-barrier, also a symbol of the believer’s wish and restoration.
Where to see Thaipusam in Penang
Generally, at 5 a.m. on the same day, the parade will set off from Little India, passing through Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Victoria, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Dato Keramat and Jalan Barat. The final destination is the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple at Jalan Kebun Bunga. If you want to catch a glimpse of the liveliest moments of the festival, you can wait around 10am to 11am at Jalan Dato Keramat, as it is the place where the most people break coconuts and a great place to take pictures. Finally, you can also go to the Temple to watch the full sacrificial ceremony.
In fact, the most incredible thing about the Thaipusam Festival is that believers use a variety of metals to pierce a part of the body, carrying a heavy Kavadi a long way, not only will not bleed, but also will not leave scars afterwards. They believe that the Lord Murugan was with them during the ceremony, leaving them without pain throughout the process.
Penang Little India
Address: Lebuh Pasar, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang.
Jalan Dato Keramat
Address: 110, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang.
Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple
Address: 17, Jalan Kebun Bunga, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang.