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KUALA LUMPUR: M. Maliga was on her deathbed on her 50th birthday last March after taking a new medication for her arthritis.
Her lungs were swollen, she was paralysed from the neck down and on a ventilator.
In her moment of need, she cried out to Lord Muruga to heal her and vowed to shave her long, thick waist-length hair if he did.
Today, Maliga is not only alive and well but is able to walk with the aid of a walking stick.
In keeping with her promise, Maliga shaved her head during the Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves here yesterday.
“Lord Muruga gave me the strength to breathe on my own after the second day at ICU although the doctors couldn’t help me.
“I didn’t mind shaving my hair off although it’s forbidden in my family to do so but it’s a small price to pay to be alive today,” she said, holding back her tears.
Santhia Devi Chandra Das, 19, also offered her prayers to Lord Muruga but she decided to do so by walking on her knees as a sign of her devotion.
The St John’s Institute student climbed up the 272 steps and then made her way to the shrine at the top of the cave on her knees.
Although Santhia was in pain, she persisted, with encouragement of her brother and the crowd chanted “Vel! Vel!” to spur her on.
“I’m so exhausted and my knees are bruised,” she said, adding that she had prayed for her family and good STPM results.
Asked if quitting crossed her mind, she said: “It’s either you do it, or you don’t.”
Five-year-old Marvin Raj carried a paal kodum (milk pots) to fulfil a vow made by his father.
“I am willing to climb up the stairs with the pot on my head. I am not afraid of the pain or of being tired,”said Marvin, who carried the milk pot with his three-year-old sister, Prem.
At the Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple in Lorong Kulit in Penang, 19-year-old Gilson Cheah Soon Huat was among those who carried kavadis.
With 150 big and small paal kodum pierced all over his upper torso, the engineering student went into a trance.
“I do this every year to fulfil my vows to Lord Muruga for blessing me, my family and giving me success in my studies,” said Cheah, who has been carrying kavadis since 2002.
Another devotee, Vickneshwaran, said he was carrying the kavadi for the first time. The 22-year-old had hundreds of small milk pots on his torso and a silver vel pierced across his cheeks.
“I am doing it for Lord Muruga’s blessings and I will probably do it again next year,” he added.
Among those carrying milk pots at the Waterfall Road temple was Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon’s wife Puan Sri Chui Kah Peng.
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