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SINGAPORE, December 30, 2000: The Times of London reporter Fiona Terry winced when she met Hindu devotees at a Singapore festival. She writes, "It seemed an ungodly thing to do -- parade two miles through the streets of Singapore with spears through cheeks, hooks piercing the skin and shoes of upturned nails. Yet this wasn't some inexplicable form of masochism -- this was true devotion, a Hindu ritual of body transcendence in honor of the deity Lord Subramaniam." This colorful display of courage occurs at Thai Pusam, this lengthy report goes on, a Hindu festival celebrated every new year in Singapore and Malaysia. The extraordinary pilgrimage with its mortification of flesh is the worshippers' way of seeking penance.