BATU CAVES,Malaysia: Hindus gathered in temples across Malaysia on Saturday (Feb 8) to celebrate the annual Thaipusam festival, with many piercing their bodies with hooks and skewers, despite concerns about the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Massive crowds descended on the Batu Caves temple complex on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur to participate in the event, where Hindus showcase their devotion to the deity Lord Murugan.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Worshippers walked barefoot up 272 steps to reach the temple – an important religious site for Tamil Hindus – armed with gifts including milk pots which are eventually smashed as offerings.

Worshippers walk barefoot up 272 steps to reach the Batu Caves temple — to make offerings during the Thaipusam festival AFP/Mohd RASFAN

Many displayed their fervour by carrying heavy ornate metal structures called "kavadis", affixed to their bodies with sharp metal spikes that are hammered into the skin.

Some devotees appeared to be in a state of trance as they carried the kavadis, which can weigh as much as 100kg.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Others pierced their faces with tridents or hung multiple hooks and chains from their bodies in an act of penance.

Worshippers at the annual Thaipusam festival carry gifts including milk pots which are eventually smashed as offerings AFP/Mohd RASFAN

The crowd at the Batu Caves looked as big as in previous years despite worries about the new virus, and only a handful were wearing protective masks.

The pathogen has killed hundreds and infected tens of thousands in China and is spreading around the world. Malaysia has so far reported 16 cases, mostly in visiting Chinese nationals.

"We are quite worried about the Wuhan virus," conceded devotee Navindran Arumugam, referring to the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak.

But he added he was not too concerned about picking up the illness at such a "holy place".

Massive crowds descend on the Batu Caves temple complex on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur to participate in the Thaipusam festival AFP/Mohd RASFAN

Prior to ThaipusRead More – Source