"Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting. Kavadi-bearing have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and take only pure Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God. On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.
The shrines inside and outside the caves were elaborate as all the Hindu temples we saw all over Malaysia.We did witness an exorcism of a woman by a shaman with lime hooks in his back, devotees shaving their heads, a Hindu band performing by the river where devotees showered in their beautiful clothes to cleanse themselves, and a shaman in a trance smoking a cigar, seated on a chair made of nails, anointing people. All captured and lost somehow during transferring from camera to laptop. Disappointed and saddened doestn't begin to describe how we felt after we realized the images and video were lost!