We made the trip to Kuala Lumpur specifically to witness the annual Hindu Festival, Thaipusam. We knew very little about it before arriving, so we took to the streets and asked the locals.
Anyone we could talk to, we asked… thanks to Sai, the woman that gave me my beautiful henna, we learned where to witness the start of the 8 mile pilgrimage from a gorgeous temple in town. The crowd was cramped all centered around the glowing float as we started marching. Along the way there were 100’s of people giving away free food and drink - so many that we had to start turning it away.
Our cab driver, Rajan, spoke excitedly and nonstop about what we were going to witness once we got to the Batu Caves for the main event 2 days later. They were both eager to share their culture with us.
And wow did we experience it! Because of the language barrier, thick crowds, and loud music - we never fully knew what exactly to do. But it was clear that this was a very sacred, important and even fun event in which “devotees” sacrificed their bodies for their religion and families gathered for tradition. We simply shuffled along with the enormous crowd eyes wide with all the colors, traditional garb, music, dancing, excitement, joy…
Everyone was so open to share it with us. Not gonna to lie, we stuck out in the crowds - so much so that I was a prop for some group photos, and we were interviewed for a local news segment. But we always felt welcome and accepted, even part of it during traditional services (Colin got his head shaved, Mik and I received ashes on our forehead). We feel very happy and lucky to have had this experience, it is something special we will never forget.