This isn't actually a post about travel or anything, but a back-dated photo journey on Thaipusam earlier this year.

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai, on the date of the full moon. During Thaipusam, Hindu devotees participate in a pilgrimage along a pre-determined route from Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, carrying out certain acts of 'kavadi' or burden, such as carrying a pot of milk, or piercing the skin, cheeks or tongue with skewers to show their devotion.
The following is a timeline (based on what i can remember) of the events that unfolded on the day.
3-330am: My friends and I wake up from our nap to get up and start to walk towards Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. On the way along Selegie Road, on the opposite side, we see some early birds who have already started on the path to the ending point.

330-345am: At a crossing whilst waiting for the traffic light to turn green, we wait behind some devotees who have already registered and changed into their attitude, holding their beautifully adorned jugs, to be contained with milk as an offering later. 

4+am: We reach the starting point, take off our footwear and enter the temple. The temple grounds are flooded with devotees and their family members, as well as other photographers like us, and a few interested tourists. Preparations are in way for the proceeding, and we can see offerings, milk, flowers scattered all around. 

4-5am: We explore the temple grounds and observe quietly whilst the devotees make their preparations for the walk to the end point later. Some are pierced multiple times on the same spot as the metal hooks or pieces keep getting dislodged. Devotees of all ages, from the youths to the elderly, are all engaged in the preparation for Kavali later. The atmosphere is dense with a mix of anticipation, apprehension and maybe some fear, from those who look like they may be first timers. 

most incredible man

5am: I exchange glances with a middle-aged man with what it seems like a few dozen hooks pierced onto the surface of his torso, both front and back. 
He looks calm and seasoned, maybe even a little weary. He is carrying the heaviest and largest metal arch in the whole temple at this time. I watch, in awe, as they slowly start to attach rings and rings of feathers and ornaments on the metal arch. I lose track of time and everything else around me. I stop taking photos, out of what I feel is respect for this man, for his devotion, and this moment. I will let this remain in my memory, and not on my roll of film. 

When all the rings have been attached properly, this man, of only small to medium build, starts to slowly stand up. He tries to take a step, but looks as if he might be crushed at any moment by the weight of the arch and all the things piles on him, and goes off balance, tipping forward- the other devotees around immediately  lurch forward to give a helping hand to steady him. He regains his composure and tries again. 
In minutes he is in a rhythmic step-dance, with all of us around him clapping along to the beat, some singing and cheering him on. The feathers and ornaments attached to the rings on the arch on this torso sway freely in a beautiful and free way as he continues his dance. 

Slowly he makes his way to the exit. The crowds clear for him and he exits from the temple. We try to follow him but soon he is too far in front and we lose him.

630-7am: I can't seem to think properly at this time. We have walked all the way, passing Little India and Dhoby Gaut. My legs feel like jelly. Having not slept a proper wink the night before, I am sleep-deprived and hungry. We finally reach the end point, Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. We take off our shoes and enter the temple. All around the temple there are devotees and their family who are already completed their kavadi and are enjoying some simple food. Other devotees and trailing in, in the final steps of their kavadi. 

We look up at the blue sky and the clouds are a comforting shade of pink, as if a sign from the gods above that they are moved by the countless acts of devotion carried out by these devotees today. 

7+am: I can't take it anymore, my brain is not functioning. We leave the temple and make our way across the road the the nearby McDonalds to have some breakfast and to recover.