For one day each year, the Tamil Hindus of Malaysia give thanks and do penance. Thousands of pilgrims make the eight-hour walk from Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves, bearing kavadi - physical burdens, which may include rods through their cheeks or hooks embedded into the skin. The Kavadis honor Murugan, the god of victory.
This three-day festival is celebrated by Malaysian Chinese throughout the country. Houses, temples and streets are cleaned and decorated, families come together for reunion meals, children receive red packets of money and there are dragon and lion dances in the street. Fireworks are set off and there is a festive atmosphere.