Diverse crowd: Monkeys looking for food as visitors climb the steps at Batu Caves.
PETALING JAYA: Some 1.6 million people are expected to attend the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves this year, an increase from last year.
Devotees have already started streaming to the temple at the hill over the past two weekends to fulfil their vows, said Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah.
“It has been very crowded, many have started to carry the paal kudam (milk pots) and kavadi,” said Nadarajah.
Last year, some 1.5 million locals and tourists attended the Thaipusam celebration.
He advised those who wanted to attend the celebration to take public transport to avoid parking woes.
This year, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is expected to attend the celebrations on Thursday, said Nadarajah.
Devotees are also advised to dress appropriately for the celebration.
“Please do not wear revealing sarees. Come in traditional and decent attire. This is a religious festival. Devotees are also not advised to wear expensive jewellery,” he said.
His advice comes after a Facebook group warned Hindu women to expect being sprayed with paint should they be “inappropriately dressed” at Thaipusam events.
The group’s creator Saravana Ramasenderan was recently charged in court with allegedly disturbing a religious ceremony but has denied the charges.
Nadarajah said that about 2,000 policemen and 750 temple volunteers will be on duty to ensure the safety of devotees attending the celebration this year.
For the comfort of devotees, a fourth staircase has been built to ease congestion. Devotees carrying paal kudam will be able to use the first staircase while kavadi bearers use the second staircase.
Nadarajah also advised devotees not to break too many coconuts during the chariot procession.
He said the temple will not offer coconut archanai (offering) for prayers at Batu Caves from Feb 7-9 because it would be too time consuming to break the coconut for the prayers. Only banana archanai will be offered.
Nadarajah also said the silver chariot procession will begin at 10pm today from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Jalan Tun H.S Lee, Kuala Lumpur, and is expected to arrive in Batu Caves at 2.30pm tomorrow.
The silver chariot will make its way back from Batu Caves at 4pm on Feb 10 and is expected to reach the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple at 2am on Feb 11.
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