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As told by a Visual Storyteller Unknown stories from Asia.

My Scholarship entry - Seeing the world through other eyes

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [182] | Scholarship Entry

Crowds, endless din & fanfare make a perfect blend with the motionless sweetness of temple incense. Clammy masses carrying all sorts of emotions charge with a strength of a battering ram. Thickening smoke bites the eyes & irritates the lungs while the sweat is dripping down the festive yellow dhoti. A human being surrendered to the act of thanksgiving to his beloved lord, immersed in trust & devotion. Hands put together in prayer; steady breathing of a person who has found peace in chaos & stillness in motion.

A protective turmeric root strapped to the wrist is dangling in the rhythm of thunderous drums. The whole world freezes as warm air bursts through the lungs liberating itself in an unearthly squeal. Here comes the trance. An enigmatic energy that flowing through the muscle makes it durable & flowing through the skin makes it numb to pain.

While being blessed with this half-conscious state is the most formidable task of the intricate pilgrimage of Thaipusam, its very purpose is yet to come. The bunch of fishing hooks is already sharpened & tied to the lemons, all 108 pieces to commemorate the sacred number 9. The back is precisely purified with turmeric powder & the skin stretched to the extreme. The blade cuts into flesh like a scalpel stopping only at the bone. This unskilled stab causes minor discomfort, the next one,competently measured,stops seamlessly.

There’s no pain nor fear as all 108 hooks penetrate the tissue. Not a drop of blood is shed, only beads of sweat bedew the forehead. Awareness comes in short waves of weakness, as a 48-day fast has stealthily exhausted the body. But the residing energy grimly holds the ground while a 30-kilogram offering burden is being fixed to the shoulders. The same supreme power enables the pilgrim to complete his journey.

Once the hooks are detached & the trance is gone the happiness triumphs over sorrow. Because what in the eyes of a passerby is just a sheer madness, in the heart of a devotee is the purest love.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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