The Hindu festival of Thaipusam on 20 January 2011 will see almost a million people throng Batu Caves in Selangor, Malaysia. The cave is home to one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India. Thaipusam in Malaysia is synonymous with the kavadi and of course the cave itself. Apart from Batu Caves, there are other Hindu temples in Malaysia that also celebrate Thaipusam, such as the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Gunong Cheroh, Ipoh, Perak and at the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple along Jalan Waterfall in Penang.
The festival is also very popular with photographers wanting to get powerful images of devotees making the vows and the colourful kavadi as well as the overall atmosphere of Thaipusam. I’ve not been to Batu Caves before, not least for Thaipusam. Thankfully I have a few friends who’ve been there and they shared with me some tips:
- Get there early
- If you’re going to drive, don’t park too near the temple itself, otherwise you may not be able to leave when you want to
- Use public transport if possible (ie: the KTM Komuter, since it practically stops at Batu Caves)
- There will be large crowds, so if you’re going in groups, stick close together
- Be weary of pickpockets
- Travel light (only essential gear)
- Be ready for some very emotionally charged situations
- Bring water to rehydrate due to the sweltering heat
As usual, I’ve done some research on the celebration and below are some links I found. Sean Liew‘s tips are the most useful ones I’ve found so far! He covers where to shoot and even etiquette.