Anyways, here are some facts about Thaipusam if you don't already know it (thanks Wikipedia!):
- Thaipusam is also referred to as Thaipooyam or Thaippooyam in the Malayalam language
- The festival commemorates both the birthday of Lord Murugan (also Subramaniam), the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (lance) so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.
- On the day of the festival, Hindu devotees from the Tamil community will shave their heads undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.
- The temple at Batu Caves, near Kuala Lumpur, often attracts over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists (apparently it's the largest Thaipusam celebration in the world!)
- The procession to the caves starts at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur in the heart of the city and proceeds for 15 kilometers to the caves, an 8-hour journey culminating in a flight of 272 steps to the top. (whoah!)