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Thaipusam, Hindu Festival, Marked By Piercings And Painful Rituals In Singapore, Malaysia (PHOTOS)

AP/The Huffington Post   First Posted: 01/20/11 03:10 PM ET   Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

Thousands of Hindus in both Malaysia and Singapore subjected themselves to painful rituals such as piercing themselves with hooks, skewers and small lances in honor of the Thaipusam festival.

As the AFP is reporting, the colorful celebration is the culmination of a period of both abstinence and fasting, and is observed as a day of thanksgiving and paying penance in commemoration of the day when the Hindu Goddess Pavarthi gave her son Lord Muruga -- the god of war and fertility -- an invincible lance with which he destroyed evil demons.

Hindus believe they are cleansed of all sins and their misdeeds can be redeemed by observing these strict rituals and prayers during Thaipusam. Some devotees carrying heavy ornate structures called kavadis as they walk barefoot, while others have their tongues, cheeks and backs pierced.

See photos of the Thaipusam festival here:

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A Hindu devotee, carrying a Kavadi offering cage, takes part in a procession during the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur.
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