\nThey say spirituality awakens at a particular moment \u2013 and that moment is necessarily different for each person.\nI do not think I have reached my moment yet. But I have been fortunate to have witnessed the deep spirituality of others, some as young as 20!\n\nWatching men who are so devoted to a being that they put themselves through intense pain for hours \u2013 left me moved and completely impressed at the Thaipusam festival in Singapore.\nMen and women pierce their bodies with spikes and hooks and use these to carry or pull weights as a mark of devotion to Lord Murugan. These men then walk from one temple to another about 2 km away on slippers that have nails poking through them.\nTo the onlooker the pain they put themselves through is as intense as their spirituality. But I am told they feel very little pain\u2026\u2026.\nImages from a deeply moving experience:\n1. At the Temple :\n\n\nThe Gods\n\n\n\nThe starting point of the procession \u2013 Sri Srinivas Perumal Temple\n\n\nA lady praying for her son before she gives him blessings\n\n\n\n\nPre-spiking preparation and puja\n\n\n2. The act of piercing\n4 rods act as the main pillars for the structure. Measurements are taken and markings are put on the front as well as the back before piercing the body with the rods.\n\nMaking body markings with ash for the piercings\n\n\nThis is where the 4 prinicpal pillars that hold up the structure will be attached to the body\n\nThe actual piercing \u2026.\n\n\n\n\nIn addition to the 4 principal rods shown above there are numerous thin metal sticks that support the structure. These are attached to the sides, the chest and the upper back.\n\nThe young man about as old as my son\n\n\nPiercing\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nHooks are used where needed and a plug is used to hold it in place.\n\nThe act of piercing\n\n\nThe momentary pain\n\n\nThe Peacock crown to be placed atop the metal structure\n\nOnce the piercings are in place the devotee and his entourage offer prayers before leaving to join the procession\n\nWorshipping the holy flame the \u201caarti\u201d before beginning\n\n3. The Procession\nThe\u00a0 journey is going to be a long one \u2026.\n\nwith sandals that have nail spikes!\n\n\nLeaving the temple and joinign the procession\n\n\n\n\nAs if bearing the pain were not enough\u2026\u2026the devotees dance to offer worship! Their limitless spirit deserves a salute\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nOther devotees serve the procession walkers by pouring water containing turmeric \u2013 as it has healing properties \u2013 on the feet of devotees.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nChildren may offer worship without spikes\n\n\n\n\n\n4. Closeups and details of Piercings\n\n\nRudraksh seeds\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe forehead marks of Shiva\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe ash seen here offers spiritual resistance to pain\n\n\nKavadis decorated with Puja string and hooked onto the devotee\u2019s back\n\n\nCarrying the Kavadi\n\n\u00a05. The Chariot Puller\n\n\nPulling a chariot with the hooks on his back\n\n\n\n6. The Women\n\nWomen are the weaker sex?\n\n\nAnother lady devotee\n\n7. The Chinese Devotee\n\nChinese devotees \u2013 a delightful surprise and a testimony to the inter racial harmony in Singapore\n\n\n\n\n8. The Tonsured Devotees\n\nTonsure is another way of offering worship\n\n\nConcluding thoughts\nIt is a Hindu custom to offer reverence by touching the feet of another \u2013 usually an elder. Although the practice is followed very commonly with younger people touching the feet of older people simply as a matter of greeting, I have rarely done this unless I truly respect the person. Today I did that to a total stranger. An old man in a procession with spikes and hooks all over his body.\n\n\n\nThe man whose feet I touched\n\n\nI truly respected the strength of his spirit \u2013 and so I touch his feet as he walked in the procession on Serangoon Road, Singapore. He, and all the others like him, some of them\u00a0 as young as my son, are way superior to me. In endurance, in spirituality\u00a0 and in mental strength. Someday I hope that the blessings I received from the old gentleman will make me stronger than I am and at least a fraction as strong as he is!\nSomeday I hope to find devotion within myself that would be intense enough to shatter the limitations of being human!\njm\nFeb 2012\nOver 100 Hi res images will be available on jainamishra.com.\nThe post Intense Spirituality \u2013 the Thaipusam Festival appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.