JOHOR BARU: The Johor Crown Prince attended the state-level Thaipusam celebration here, marking the second year that the royal family has graced the festival.
Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim was greeted at the Sri Subramaniam Paribalana Saba Temple in Masai with cheers and applause from the 15,000-strong crowd.
Devotees and visitors started gathering outside the temple much earlier for Tunku Ismail, whose arrival at around 12.30pm yesterday sparked a wave of enthusiasm.
Shaking hands and speaking to the people, Tunku Ismail was accompanied by his consort Che Puan Khaleeda Bustamam and their baby girl, Tunku Kalsom Aminah Sofiah. Present was Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
Tunku Ismail was representing his father, Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, who attended the celebration at the Murugan Temple in Simpang Renggam last year.
Tunku Ismail stayed an hour for lunch, during which time he was entertained with cultural performances.
Housewife S. Jeya, 29, said she arrived at the temple early with her family to pray and seek blessings as well as to witness the royal couple’s arrival.
“I have been coming here for Thaipusam for the past five years, and this time it is much grander with the royal family’s presence,” she said.
Sales representative R. Ravin, 30, who managed to shake hands with Tunku Ismail, described him as a friendly man.
“I even wished him luck in running for the Football Association of Malaysia presidency,” he added.
Thanking the royal family, Johor Unity and Human Resources Committee chairman R. Vidyanathan said their attendance was in true Bangsa Johor spirit.
At Jalan Kuel, best friends Wen Yee and Jia Min, both 22, were among those who turned up for the celebration at the Arulmigu Thendayuthapani Temple.
The college students woke up early to see the devotees fulfil their vows.
Wen, who is on semester break from her university in Taiwan where she is studying environmental science, said she was eager to see the rituals.
“Usually, we would only watch the celebration on television but since my friend and I were free, we decided to visit the temple,” she said.
Wen said she wanted to do something meaningful and different before leaving again for Taiwan next week.
Jia, who is studying law, said being a Buddhist did not hold her back from learning about other religions and cultures.
“It was a great experience because we got to meet new people, watch them carry silver pots of milk and fulfil their vows.
“We also enjoyed the food sold at the stalls nearby,” she said, adding that they tried snacks like vadai and spicy muruku.
Mohamed Khaled said the state government agreed to give RM50,000 to the Arulmigu Thendayuthapani Temple for its annual activities, especially in helping the needy and for its educational programmes.