The Thaipusam festival is an intense spectacle to witness.
Chanting and drumming fill the air as thousands of devotees create large and noisy processions as they march from their own temples to worship areas that act as a central mesmerising area for devotees.
I enjoy the feeling of climbing the hill as my heart opens wide in anticipation of reaching my personal summit. I don’t think that I have ever regretted going on a Thaipusam walk.
But I am likely to lament a missed opportunity to connect myself with the strong positive vibration among the devotees on that day itself.
For me this is not a religious event but more the acceptance of mother nature’s gift of the energy resulting from the transmitting of strong vows and affirmations.
Walking up the 513 steps of Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani (Waterfall temple), is one of those simple and richly rewarding joys. Nature bursts with an exuberant joy as the scent and colours of the flowers and fauna that shroud the steps exude an energy that is is just so good for your health that the sense of healing in and of itself is tangible!
The health benefits of walking are obvious, aiding circulation, inspiring breathing, speeding up the metabolism and waking up the brain.
Like all forms of exercise, walking encourages your brain to release endorphins, a neurochemical that boosts your mental health, decreases your sensitivity to stress and pain, and can even make you feel euphoric. A 2018 survey conducted in the U.K. found that it took women a mere ten minutes of exercise to feel this “rush of mood-boosting endorphins”, as reported in “The Independent” in its article aptly named “walk for health”.
The Coconut Smash:
The same rituals as the first day (eve of Thaipusam) happen along the route of the procession. Hindu devotees smash coconuts on the roads to symbolise “the breaking of one’s ego to reveal purity inside”. Many look to be smashing coconuts just for the fun of smashing coconuts.
Each coconut smash needs to be cleared before the chariot can move forward again. As for me, it’s more of a therapy to help throw away all the emotional blockages and to reaffirm dreams and ‘wants’ in life.
And here I go again to Penang for another positive journey into accepting another of God’s creation, this time with much help of the human kind.
One of the things that attracted me to Thaipusam was the incredible energy waves that Kavadi Worshippers seem to radiate. It is an incredible ecstasy that I’ve never experienced in religious life in any other real context.
It’s remarkable to witness people that are prepared to make this commitment to trust a God to take care of their bodies and their welfare, in such a dramatic way. In a manner of speaking, it’s a quite an intense and public display to witness such a belief in their deity.