Thaipusam is an annual procession by Hindu devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks. Celebrated in honour of Lord Subrahmanya (also known as Lord Murugan), who represents virtue, youth and power to Hindus and is the destroyer of evil, it is held during the full moon in the 10th Tamil month called Thai, which falls during mid-January each year.
Devotees cleanse themselves through fasting and prayers for 48 hours prior to the festival. On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi, ranging from pots of milk to elaborate chariots and canopies. Some also pierce their flesh or tongues with hooks and spears as they believe that the greater the pain, the greater the God-given merit. Some devotees enter a trance during the piercing and procession.