Well, not really, but I was ALMOST going for it.
Head shaving is one of the important Thaipusam rituals and a symbol of purification.
Seriously, if it wasn’t because Chinese New Year is soon approaching, I would have gladly done it without much hesitation. It won’t be a nice feeling having to explain to uninformed family members.
(Serious/Religious matters ahead: If you are not interested in reading serious or religious stuff, you can skip through this long text to see the pictures below.)
If I had shaven my head bald for Thaipusam, I’m almost certain the majority in my Chinese circle would be looking at me like I’m pretentious or some kind of freak, for doing something I feel is spiritual and sacred.
Not that I would be bothered very much by that though, but I told myself and Magen that next year would most likely be a better time for that.
The truth is that the society can be super judgemental at times. Sometimes one just has to put up with unnecessary judgements and criticisms coming from society members for what they think is right or wrong.
When you talk about spiritual and intellectual happiness, most people would preach money and material wealth. When you talk religion, they preach science is the new god.
Shave your head bald on Thaipusam day and they will probably call you crazy, superstitious, or whatever non-constructive words they could think of in order to bring down your morale. Just because they probably think you’re not a Hindu and therefore shouldn’t be doing that.
For me I see a lot of similarities in various religions, especially between Hinduism and Buddhism – the latter of which I’m practising.
Paying a visit to Hindu temples and following certain rituals are just a form of respect to their Gods. It is also a good way of understanding their religion better.
I’m not often preachy about religious matters and I respect individuals who distance themselves from religions because I think ultimately it is a personal choice, but I just cannot at those who come up to you to play down something you appreciate or believe in.
People like that are super horribly ignorant, disrespectful, and self-righteous.
OK, I shall stop delving too much into this since this isn’t the main focus in this entry.
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Back to Thaipusam 2013.
So all this while I have always wanted to pay a visit to Batu Caves during Thaipusam. But for the past few years it was either that there was no holiday on Thaipusam for me, or that I couldn’t find the right people to go with.
This year, since it happened that Thaipusam fell on a weekend, I was super delighted when Magen invited me to join him and his family for the celebration at the Batu Caves.
There are going to be mostly photos and less words below. I’m going to start with a photo of a devotee carrying a “kavadi” who made his way from a river to the 272-step staircase leading up to the Batu Caves in order to worship Lord Murugan:
We started making our journey up the Caves around midnight with a million others, and below was the view from halfway up the Batu Caves. It was simply phenomenal.
Me looking down at the sea of crowds from halfway up the 272-step staircase at the Batu Caves:
I took off my slippers because there are shrines in the Caves and it isn’t respectful to wear them around the shrines.
From inside one of the highest caves:
We went down the Caves at around 3 in the morning feeling drop dead tired, and headed to sleep over at Magen’s relative’s place. After we woke up it was already close to noon. We then went back to Batu Caves again in the afternoon.
Below are photos from our second visit to Batu Caves in the afternoon:
Well, that’s all!
I had an exceptionally wonderful experience celebrating Thaipusam at Batu Caves for the first time. Given the chance I would definitely love to visit the Arulmigu Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple in Penang next Thaipusam.