This is one of the most intense festival in the world. Originating from India, the Hindu festival is most grandly celebrated in Malaysia attracting millions of devotees and curious tourists alike.
While Visithra has been visiting the festival since she was a child, she began photographing the festival in 2005. This is her 11th year photographing the festival in Batu Caves, Malaysia.
Thaipusam is celebrated in honour of the Hindu god, Muruga. Weeks before the festival starts, devotees fast and practice self-restraint as they prepare to carry the Kavadi. The kavadi is a decorated structure containing pots of milk, often 3-4 feet in height, weighing more than 7 kg. On the day of the festival, the bearers head to the river for a dip before they are pierced while under a trance with hooks and spears in the form of the vel (weapon of choice of Lord Muruga).
Spurred by the chants of vel! vel! and the sounds of the drums called urumi melam, they dance and walk towards the Batu Caves steps before climbing 272 steps to reach the caves.
While shooting the same experience can become a task, Visithra began looking at different ways to shoot the festival. One of the things she wanted to showcase was the dancing and music that takes place with every kavadi so she used light and slow shutter photography to express the exhilarating music and passion of the devotees.
About Visithra Manikam
Visithra Manikam is a female photographer from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia who focuses on documenting people through photography. The self-taught photographer began seriously taking up photography in 3005. Her work is focused in Asia through travel photography in Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Myanamr, Thailand and more. She also has ongoing projects that include dance photography as well as festivals such as Thaipusam.Her work has been exhibited and published both locally and internationally.