Thaipusam Festival- Penang- Malaysia

Metal skewers jabbed through cheeks and tongues, steel hooks pierced through skin, hundreds of silver cups hooked and dangling from chests… sounds like torture treatment, right? In fact these bodily piercings are done voluntarily by participants in the annual Indian Thaipusam Festival. Banned in many places, the edgy Thaipusam parade still throngs the streets of Penang, Malaysia. Joining the revelry are elaborately decorated bulls, traditional Indian musicians, frenetic dancers and hordes of on-lookers. Thaispusam noisily winds through Georgetown to its destination: hillside Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple on the foot of Penang Hill.

In this photo gallery, get an up close look at the wild festivities. SEE GALLERY

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