BATU CAVES: Hindus gathered in temples across Malaysia on Thursday to celebrate the annual Thaipusam festival, with many piercing their bodies with hooks and skewers to showcase devotion to the deity Lord Murugan.
Massive crowds descended on the stunning Batu Caves temple complex on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur to participate in the festival, which commemorates the day when the goddess Parvathi gave her son Lord Murugan a powerful lance to fight evil demons.
Armed with gifts including milk pots and coconuts which are eventually smashed as offerings, worshippers walked barefoot up 272 steps to reach the temple - an important religious site for Tamil Hindus.
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 100 kilogrammes.
Others pierced their faces with tridents or hung multiple hooks and chains from their bodies in an act of penance. Lord Murugan is particularly revered in southern India and among ethnic Tamil communities in South East Asia, with Thaipusam also celebrated in India and Singapore.