I had a guest over this weekend. She is a doctor to be from Switzerland travelling around South East Asia. I decided to check out what’s happening in Batu Caves, in particular, how the Hindus celebrate Thaipusam. Shame on me, being a Malaysian for already 23 years, when never once I had witnessed this event. I wanted to take some pictures and to experience it as it is. I looked forward to this colorful ceremony.
So Rahel Ernst and I woke up at 7a.m. and took the train to Masjid Jamek Ampang Line Station. We ate breakfast and hopped on the next LRT line train to Terminal Putra. There were shuttle buses that took people to and fro Batu Caves from Terminal Putra. At 9a.m., we took the bus and to our surprise, another 20 couchsurfers were on the same bus. Now, we had with us, 20 foreigners eager to experience Thaipusam.
Rahel and I sticked together as the rest went separate ways. We walked for 5-10 minutes to the main entrance where the parade took place. We saw a lady who danced frantically and Rahel somehow knew something was wrong with her. She then walked to the woman who by then rested on the shoulders of 2 other women and offered some water. The lady seemed to have been dehydrated and drugged.
We shot everything that passed by us. Kavadi, women and men carrying pots of milk and people with pierced skin, toungue and cheeks were the common view of the day. Music was played throughout the street. Some who took part in the parade chanted, “Vel…Vel..Vel..” We climbed a road divider to enjoy the view without interrupting the parade and started shooting.
Apart from foreigners, I could see a large numbers of Malays and Chinese within the vicinity. It dawns upon me while Malaysians are eager to learn about culture abroad, for example, Europe, Australia, the States, to name a few, they fail to explore the culture back home. It is a good experience though. I encourage you to atleast experience this once in your lifetime.
This is a short note of my 1Malaysia experience.