A Thaipusam procession

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai – which means ‘tenth’ – when the moon is full. Dedicated to Lord Subramaniam, also known as Lord Murugan, the deity of youth, power and virtue, this festival is a time for repentance for devotees as celebrations are carried out mainly at the temple. Devotees prepare themselves spiritually with extensive prayers and fasting before performing acts of penance or thanksgiving, such as carrying a kavadi (an object symbolising sacrifice, usually heavy) from one temple to another, where devotees pierce their tongues, cheeks and bodies with sharp skewers as a practice of self-mortification.