16. BONUS! Kuala Lumpur’s Thaipusam Festival – Late January/Early February
(Are we pushing it? Nah, it’s always summer in KL.)
This festival will shock, awe and inspire you. Hindu pilgrims looking to reaffirm their faith or honor personal vows embark on a 13-kilometer trek lugging kavadi (“physical burdens”). These often take the form of pots of milk, but for more severe penance (or thanksgiving) a decorated portable altar is more appropriate. The altars – some weighing as much as 100 kilograms – are attached to the pilgrim’s body through 108 vels (spears) pierced into the skin on the chest and back.
Visitors can actively participate in the procession up the 272 steps (ouch!) to the Batu Caves temple, walking alongside kavadi bearers. Or, more adventurous visitors can carry kavadis themselves and receive blessings from priests at the temple.