Thaipusam - Malaysia`s Hindu Festival

Thaipusam is an annual Hindu festival which draws the largest gathering in multi-racial Malaysia - sometimes over a million people. Several hundred devotees spear their cheeks with long, shiny steel rods - often a metre long - and pierce their chests and backs with small, hook-like needles in penance. Tourists watch in awe as metal pierces the skin with hardly any bleeding and, apparently, no pain as the devotee stands in a trance in the dawn light after weeks of rigorous abstinence.

Chinese Lion Dance in Malaysia

The lion dance is a vigorous form of dance that is usually performed during Chinese festivals such as Chinese New Year. The origins of the lion dance are linked closely to the origins of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is said that in ancient times, a mythological creature known as Nian terrorised China and devoured its people on the eve of the new year. The only animal that managed to wound this beast was the lion. Thus, in an attempt to frighten the beast, the villagers decided to mimic the lion with lions made of cloth.

In accordance with this legend, the dance is believed to usher good fortune, as well as ward off evil spirits. The lion dance calls for perfect co-ordination, elegance and nerves of steel.