We had an Uber driver recently that asked us if we would be in Penang for Thaipusam. He was part way through forty days of preparation, fasting, celibacy and not shaving in advance of this important Tamil Hindu holiday commentating the God Murugan, representing goodness over evil. Because our stay in Penang was much longer than we anticipated the kids and I had an opportunity to witness the celebration.
In Penang, thousands of devotees follow a procession of a chariot to the Sri Mahamariamman Temple carrying small pots of fresh cow’s milk as offerings. Other devotees observe by piercing their skin with small hooks or large skewers and carrying large kavadi on supports around their shoulders and waists.
We joined in the celebration where the road closed and walked a couple of kilometers along the path to the temple. We listened to very loud religious music, drank many cool drinks and ate delicious vegetarian food that was handed to us along the way. We ducked into a couple of the hundreds of temporary temples that offered drinks, shade and a place to sit down. Ultimately we never made it up the hill to the temple but what we saw was quite impressive anyway.