Hindu devotees have made the trek to Malaysia’s capital for the colorful, feverish, annual Thaipusam religious festival; a celebration dedicated to the deity Lord Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati presented a lance to Lord Murgan to vanquish the demon army of Tarakasura and combat their evil deeds. Therefore, Thaipusam is a celebration of the victory of good over evil.
Many devotees carry heavy kavaki, or burdens, that can weigh as much as 45 kilograms and that are loaded with milk, fruit and flowers for the various Murugan temples.The kavaki are decorated lavishly with peacock feathers and portraits of gods.
Celebrants endure feats of body piercing, including their tongues and cheeks, with hooks, skewers and small lances to show their gratitude to the deity.