Monday, February 1, 2010

Batu Cave Murugan Temple Malaysia

Lord Ganesha at the entrance of Pillaiyar temple Batu Caves 

Vakratunda Mahakaaya
Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Mey Deva
Sarva Kaaryeshu Sarvada

The Lord with the curved trunk and a mighty body, who has the magnificance of a Million suns, 
pray to you Oh Lord, to remove the obstacles from all the actions I intend to perform.

 Batu Caves Magnificent Hindu Cave Temple
• Batu Caves Founder: K Thamboosamy Pillai
• Built: 1891
• Primary Deity: Lord Subramaniar or Karttikeya;
• Number of steps: 272 to the cathedral cave;
• Height: 400 feet or 125 meters;
• Opening Hours: daily from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm
• Location: about 13 KM north of KL, District of Gombak
• Temple managed by Batu Malai Sri Subramaniar Temple.

Key Tips for visiting the Batu Caves

• As steps leading up the Batu Caves are not covered, it would be good idea to visit it in the later part of the afternoon when it's not so hot.
• Do keep a plastic bag with you to protect your important documents from the humidity, the rain and your sweat.
• Do carry an umbrella with you wherever you go as it can rain anytime in Malaysia. A foldable umbrella that you can keep in your bag will cost about RM10/USD3.

Golden Statue of Lord Murugan

• Completed: January 2006
• Cost: RM2.5 million/USD720,000
• Height: 43 meters or 135 feet;
• Materials used: 300 liters of gold paint, 1550 cubic meters of concrete.
• Tallest statue of Lord Murugan in the world.
• Malaysian Book of Records: Tallest Hindu deity in Malaysia.

Brief History of Batu Caves
 Cathedral Cave Entrance

Originally used by the Orang Asli or aborigines of the Bersisi tribe for shelter when out hunting.
• 1860s Used by the Chinese community to collect guano from bat droppings for their vegetable farms around Kuala Lumpur.
• 1878 Discovered by William Hornaday, an American Naturalist, who documented the caves and made popular as a result.
• 1891 Temple founder, Thamboosamy Pillai, laid foundation stone and installed a "murti" or consecrated statue of the Sri Subramania Swamy Temple. Apparently the mouth of the entrance to the main cave resembles the shape of a "vel" or spear. Thamboosamy also founded the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Jalan Bandar near Kuala Lumpur Chinatown.
• 1892 First Thaipusam festival celebrated here. This major Hindu festival has been held here annually since then.
• 1920 Wooden steps were built to access the main cave or the cathedral cave where the Sri Subramania Swamy Temple is located.

Statue of Hanuman at Batu Caves
Statue of Hanuman at the entrance of Ramayana Cave

Located toward the left of the temple compound as one enters. You'll be able to see the 15 meters or 50 foot tall statue of Hanuman or the monkey god. Within you'll be able to see statues related to the tale of Ramayana.
• Open to public since 2001.
• Entrance Fee: RM1 per person.

Dark Caves and Malaysian Nature Society

• Managed by Malaysian Nature Society to preserve the pristine condition of these caves network;
• Located half-way up the cathedral caves, at step number 204;
• 2 KM of unspoiled cave habitat;
• You'll witness formations such as cave curtains, flow stones, cave pearls and scallops formed from stalagmites and stalactites.

Thaipusam in Malaysia

The Legend associated with Thaipusam

Idumban and Kavadi
Rich legend lies behind the origins of Thaipusam. Popular narration goes that the great Saint, Agasthya, instructed his student, Idumban to uproot two hills called Sivagiri and Shakthigiri belonging to Lord Murugan and bring it back to him. As commanded, Idumban flew to Mount Kailai Range where the hills rested and picked them up ready to fly back. But alas, Lord Murugan had other plans. He wanted to test Idumban’s mettle and devotion to his master. He reduced his size, to that of a small child and promptly stood atop one of the hills. Suddenly Idumban found that he couldn’t carry the hills anymore. To his bewilderment, a child was standing haughtily on the hill. Idumban humbly requested the boy to get down. When the child refused, Idumban flew into a rage and tried to attack him, only to find himself falling like an injured bird. Lord Murugan then reverted to his original self and appeared before Idumban. "I am pleased with your courage and determination," he said. "Your devotion to your guru is admirable. I now bestow on you the honor of being my guardian" Lord Murugan then proclaimed that henceforth, those who carried kavadis to see him, would receive his blessings. Today, thousands of Hindus carry kavadis as offerings to the Lord during Thaipusam. The kavadis symbolize the hills of burden that Idumban shouldered. 

Murugan, Vel and Tharakasuran
The other version was a demon named Tharakasuran who was troubling the Rishis and Saints. Lord Muruga was called by his parents Lord Shiva and Parvati and given the job of destroying the asuran. Lord Muruga set off with the blessings of his parents, to destroy the demon. He carried twelve weapons, eleven of which were given by his father Lord Shiva and the 'Vel' given by his mother Parvati. Lord Muruga destroyed Tharakasuran on the Pusam Nakshatra day in the Tamil month of Thai and hence Thai Pusam is celebrated in all Murugan temples. 

Shiva Parvati cosmic dance
In another legend, that on a Thursday in Thai that also happened to be the day of Pusam star and pournami, Shiva and Parvati were engaged in an ecstatic cosmic dance, as Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the Devas watched. This indicates that this is a day ideal for worship of Shiva.

Nataraja's Ananda Tandava
The Thai pusam festival has a tremendously important place in the tradition of Nataraja's Ananda Tandava in Chidambaram. For it was on the Pusam day in the Tamil month of Tai (mid-January to mid-February) that, in response to the wishes of the Deva's and rishi's, Sivakamasundari herself, Brahma, Bhring, Nandi, Narada, Vyaghrapada and Patanjali, Natarajar manifested his Cosmic Dance (Ananda Tandava) at Thillai and granted their further prayer that He continue this mystic dance for ever at Chidambaram.

According to another legend, as Shiva was imparting a mantra to Parvati, Subrahmanya eavesdropped on them. For that error, Parvati laid a curse on him, in line with the rule that even a son, if erring, must be punished. To be redeemed from her curse, Subrahmanya offered hard penance at Thirupparankundram. Pleased with his penance, Shiva and Parvati manifested before him and lifted the curse. The day on which Parvati's curse on Subrahmanya was lifted was a Thai Pusam. It is thus a special day for worship of Lord Subrahmanya. 

Kaveri's penance
Yet another legend has it that Kaveri, grieving that she had not secured the eminence acquired by Ganga through her position atop Shiva's locks, sat under a peepul tree on the banks of Sara Pushkarini and offered penance to Narayana. Pleased by her penance, Narayana appeared as a baby in her lap. That day when he manifested thus was, again, a Thai Pusam. 

 No matter what the legend, the rites that are followed are fairly similar. On Thaipusam day, devotees make offerings to Lord Muruga for eradicating the ills that afflict us. Perhaps the most potent propitiatory rite that a devotee of Shanmukha undertakes to perform is what is known as the Kavadi. The benefits that the devotee gains from offering a Kavadi to the Lord are a million-fold greater than the little pain that he inflicts upon himself. 

The Kavadi

Generally, people take a vow to offer the Lord a Kavadi for the sake of tiding over a great calamity. Though this might, on the face of it, appear a little mercenary, a moment's reflection will reveal that it contains in it the seed of supreme love of God. The worldly object is achieved, no doubt, and the devotee takes the Kavadi; but after the ceremony he gets so God-intoxicated that his inner spiritual being gets awakened. This is also a method that ultimately leads to the supreme state of devotion. 

The Kavadi has various shapes and sizes, from the simple shape of a hawker's storehouse (a wooden stick with two baskets at each end, slung across the shoulder) to the costly palanquin structure, profusely flower-bedecked and decoratively interwoven with peacock feathers. In all cases the Kavadi has a good many brass bells adorning it and announcing it as the Kavadi-bearer draws it along. As the Kavadi-bearer very often observes silence, the bells are the only eloquent signs of a Kavadi procession. 

The two baskets hanging at each end of the Kavadi contain rice, milk or other articles that the devotee has vowed to offer the Lord. The more devout among them, and especially those who do it as a Sadhana, collect these articles by begging. They travel on foot from village to village, and beg from door to door. The villagers offer their articles directly into the basket of the Kavadi. The Kavadi-bearer continues begging until the baskets are full or the avowed quantity is reached, and then offers the Kavadi to the Lord. 

Some keen devotees undertake to walk barefoot from home to one of the shrines of Lord Subramanya, bearing the Kavadi all the way and collecting materials for the offering. They have to walk a hundred miles sometimes! The people who place the articles in the baskets also receive the Lord's blessings. 

The Kavadi-bearer is required to observe various rules between the time he takes up the Kavadi, and the day of the offering. He has to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the Kavadi, and at the time of offering it to the Lord. He also puts on the dress of a Pandaram, a Saivite mendicant. It consists of a saffron-coloured cloth, a conical scarlet cap, and a cane, silver-capped at both ends. Lord Siva, the Supreme Pandaram Himself, loves to wear this dress. The Pandaram lives on alms only. The bare chest of the Kavadi-bearer is covered with several rudraksha malas. 

The Kavadi-bearer observes strict celibacy. Only pure, Sattwic food is taken; he abstains from all sorts of intoxicating drinks and drugs. He thinks of God all the time. Many of the Kavadi-bearers, especially those who do it as a spiritual Sadhana, impose various forms of self-torture. Some pass a sharp little spear through their tongue, which is made to protrude out of the mouth. Others may pass a spear through the cheek. This sort of piercing is done in other parts of the body also. The bearer does not shave; he grows a beard. He eats only once a day. The spear pierced through his tongue or cheek reminds him of the Lord constantly. It also prevents him from speaking. It gives him great power of endurance. 

The Kavadi-bearer enjoys a high state of religious fervor. He dances in ecstasy. His very appearance is awe-inspiring; there is divine radiance on his face. Devotees often experience the state of feeling united with the Lord. Sometimes the Lord enters them and possesses them for some time. 

The Grand Procession
Over 150,000 Hindu devotees participated in a chariot procession on the eve of  Thaipusam festival. The procession, which started at midnight from Sri Maha Mariamman Temple arrived at the compound of Sri Subramaniyar Swami Temple in Batu Caves the next day. (12 hours journey)

My nephew and myself seen carrying the Paal Kudam (milk pot), 
walked about 13 kms to Batu Cave to offer the milk for abishegam. 
(30th January 2010 2.00am)

 The main part of the celebration involves the procession of devotees from the mother's temple, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, in the Kuala Lumpur ChinaTown area to Batu Caves. It is a journey of 13 KM done on foot, barefoot.
The day before the procession begins; the murti is cleansed and elaborately adorned. The murti normally resides in the mother's temple. On the day of Thaipusam, the murti sits regally on a bullock drawn chariot and heads toward the Batu Caves. The majestic silver chariot towers 21 feet or almost 7 meters above ground. The journey usually takes about 8 hours.

Climbing the 272 Steps of Batu Caves
Before ascending the 272 steps to the main temple, they will cleanse themselves at the nearby Batu River. They then proceed to the final part of their journey. The central partition of the stairway is reserved for these penitents. The other devotees and well wishes will take the peripheral partition of the stairway.

In the temple, priests will sprinkle consecrated ashes onto the devotees and remove the hooks and skewers from their bodies. Miraculously, no blood is spilled and no scar remains to be seen on their skewered cheeks and bodies after the event is over.

The Colors of Thaipusam At Batu Caves 2010

This is not a scared river as we find so many in Bharata bumi. 
But it customary for the devotees to take dip to purify them self before the invocation ceremony.
Some devotees use the modern facilities to take the ritual bathing near
the river for the Thaipusam festival Batu Caves, Malaysia.


Devotee performing a simple puja before taking the Paal Kudam/kavadi
Thaipusam, Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia.

Paal Kudam (Milk Pot), waiting to offered to Lord Muruga



Above photos show my family members are fulfilling their vow carrying Paal Kudam (milk pot) which will be offered as abishegam for Lord Muruga

Kavadi is a very intimate act in the relationship between the devotee and Lord Murugan. It must be approached with devotion and in all humility. It is not a means of showing off ones abilities, nor should people compete with each other in creating heavier or taller kavadis with more body piercings. There is absolutely no merit in taking kavadi for these reasons. 
Is this our religion? 

Lime and young coconuts carried by these devotees are suppose to be offering for Lord Muruga. But what happens to all these items?  Once they reach the destination, they are removed and dump as rubbish every where.

Is is our religion? 

KUM KUM is suppose to be a holy and sacred item for prayers - What happens here, it is smeared into their mouth and showing a fearful look.... Is this our religion.
Are these devotees  feeling a deep sense of guilt for wrong doings they have done.
That they  feel the need to take on hardships such as piercing their body to assuage the feeling of guilt.

Are we going to portray our religion with this type of activities
An extreme kavadi, this is called the paravai kavadi or the bird kavadi, 
Nallur Kandswami Temple, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
Thaipusam is for Lord Muruga but in Malaysia invoking of guardian gods is gaining popularity.

Is this Thaipusam?
Are we to contempt or condone such activities?

Thaipusam in photography




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Comments, views and suggestion from readers

In my opinion Thaipusam in Malaysia has become a tourist attraction, it is very commercialized and had become a carniva,  The majority of the devotees carrying Kavadies seem to have no idea what Thaipusam is, what is the purpose of carrying a Kavadie, how to behave  and how to go about fulfilling their vows correctly ( doing with love)

All devotees attending Thaipusam prayers at the temple should observe a vegetarian diet,suitably dressed, chants mantras or single devotional songs when at the temple and when following the Chariot or devotees carrying kavadies. They should remember this is not a competition, Therefore, Kavadies should be simple and have a  standard size, no piercing should be practiced. milk pot's should also be small.   God bestows  God's Love and Grace on us equally therefore keep it simple. Pray quietly and be disciplined. People should concentrate more on developing their inner self then placing more importance on how big & beautiful their kavadi should be etc.

This is only my opinion, I do not wish to hurt or belittle anyone. My apologies.
Thank you.

Kailai Tamila  



  1. Indian Vedic contribution is a reservoir of Vibrant Information and
    Harmonious Creativity. May the womb of nature embrace all with
    tranquil blessings from this day forward. Let this attract one's
    attention affecting them positively. It is a Sanctuary of the Self a
    Creative Venue which serves as an Enduring Expression of Lightness,
    where a peaceful Atmosphere with Sunlight Flows and serene atmosphere

    In the storm of life we struggle through myriads of stimuli of
    pressure, stress, and multi problems that seek for a solution and
    answer. We are so suppressed by the routine of this every life style
    that most of us seem helpless. However, if we look closely to ancient
    techniques we shall discover the magnificent way to understand and
    realize the ones around us and mostly ourselves. If only we could stop
    for a moment and allow this to happen. May all beings be happy (Loka
    Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu)

  2. In this temple will they put Mottai and Ear pierceing for 11 month baby?

  3. This is my personal opinion: Kavadis used to be carried solely for Lord Muruga, sadly nowadays Murugan had taken a step back with so many guardian gods taking over. Bhakthi in whichever form is good but these kind of extreme piercing and all sorts of " circus" act is just to entice the general public, spiritual it is empty. A great Master once said, The intimate relationship of a husband and a wife is only known within the four walls of their bedroom, because it is secret and sacred only shared by the husband and wife. If the intimate act of the husband and wife were to brought to the general public, it becomes pornographic or " blue film"!. Your relationship with your Ishtha Devata is secret and sacred, only to be known within the four walls of your Heart, once you show that intimate relationship within you and your Ishtha Devata to the general public, it becomes a spiritual prostitution because you are pawning your spirituality for attention from the general public. That is not Bhakthi!. That is Aanmiga Thevadiyathanam! No one should know your relationship with your Ishtha Devata, not even your own spouse, that's how holy,secret and sacred that relationship is. Yet every Tom, Dick and Harry seem to go into "Trance" for hours on end...the real spiritual energy or Tejas will unbearable for a normal human body to contain even a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, you see these circus clown conning people going in trances for hours. Why?. Because it get attention, admiration and fear from the general public...these people who go into these kind of trance "party", are they spiritually elevated in their words, thoughts, deeds and action?. Maybe one percent of them are, the rest are worst than anyone put together. There are very far and few who do it genuinely to help other without looking for a return of any kind. These are the "saints" walking amongst the people just like any ordinary guy. They don't go around telling people about their trance and saying "I-can-do-this and I-can-do-that crap!. They go on with their lives fully knowing that they are only an instrument in the hands of God, doing His Will. That is Bhakthi, that is Humbleness and that is how a sadhaka should behave. The rest are just circus monkeys looking for the peanuts of "attention", "respect", " recognition" and most material gain. Not even one of these "trance dancer" ask for spiritual illumination or Atma Jnanam. You can go and ask anyone, and proof me wrong. Everything should be within. Kadavul:- has two meaning kada:- Go. Vul:- Within. Go beyond within you to discover That. Anything outside is to aid you to go Within. If there is pomp, drama and make- up outside, it means spiritual it is empty within. As simple as that. Sarvamum Sri Maha Kali Padma Padam Arpanam. Om Sakthi.

  4. Dear Anonymous ,

    You are absolutely RIGHT with your comments. Very well and simply written.


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