Thaipusam, first morning

At 5:15 I rose, showered and was gone.

Forty minutes later I arrived at Lorong Kulit, main centre for piercing of devotees.

Nobody, just a few food market stalls setting up.

“Where are the kavadi?”

“Haha, not before 8am.”

Back in Little India I was on time to see the departure of the Silver Chariot. It was crowded, yet fluid. Moving within the crowd was easy.

Anticipation was in the air; 7 am and already hot.

An unseen signal and devotees raised their hands above their heads, palms together, in prayer. The troop ahead of the chariot, wearing elaborate headgear featuring bundles of peacock feathers, moved.

People who had been close to the chariot started streaming in the direction of travel.

The chariot advanced, I think pulled by devotees. It moved rapidly, turned a corner and stopped.

Thus began the offerings. Bowls with banannas and burning coconuts and flower garlands were passed up to the men on the chariot.

And it advanced again, perhaps 100 metres.

The crowd dispersed behind the chariot. The flottila of cleaning trucks flowed behind the chariot.

Breakfast was offered to all.

One woman was holding a devotional bowl, another was feeding her. She caught my eye so I complimented them on their skill eating wth their fingers. “It’s a mother daughter thing.” she laughed. We chatted, they offered me a second breakfast, then the family of four left with waves.

So many casual, friendly meetings, yet I will not see them again. No exchange of FB nor emails. Gone.

Back at my guest house the other, golden chariot had just arrived.

Bowls of offerings were passed up to the chariot.

“Vel!, Vel!” chanted those pulling the chariot. It advanced, stopped, accepted more offerings.

When it had passed, I returned to bed.

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