THE Thaipusam Task Force, that monitored the religious event at the Batu Caves last year, will extend its role to temples in other states this year.
Its founder chairman Shri Ramaji said the organisation’s role last year to ban unreligious practices at Thaipusam received positive feedback from devotees and visitors as there were less reports of rowdy behaviour from youths compared to previous years.
“We want this enforcement of banning of unreligious practices to be done across the country to prevent unruly behaviour.
“Like last year, we hope to have about 500 volunteers for Thaipusam this year and will implement the ban on unreligious practices in Sungai Petani, Ipoh, Penang and Kuala Selangor,” he said.
The volunteers, who will be provided food, T-shirt and cap, will be divided into three teams to check on awareness, enforcement and implementation on eight-hour shifts.
A briefing for the volunteers will be conducted on Jan 22 in Kuala Lumpur.
The committee is working with the police to stop the sale of dangerous objects at stalls and will even consficate PA systems as it would create a noisy environment.
“We are also against touts collecting high parking fees of RM10 to RM20 for each vehicle parked along the highway. We are working closely with the Selayang Municipal Council and the police in tackling the issue.
The committee is also promoting the “Green Thaipusam” concept to stop use of polystyrene cups and containers and other non-recyclable materials, added Shri Ramaji.
The committee had also banned dangerous objects such as knives, tridents, parang as well as durians, chillies and apples, among other things, to be pierced on the bodies of kavadi bearers.
The task force also banned kavadis that disrespect and mock the religious festival such as those with logos of soccer clubs, companies and other images that are deemed inappropriate..
“Volunteers will confiscate items such as the vuvuzela (plastic horn).
“Thaipusam is a religious affair and not a place to have fun and make money. We want to ensure that devotees and tourists know what exactly this religious festival is about.
“Devotees visit Batu Caves to fulfil their vows while tourists see this as a great feat. This must be kept sacred,’’ he said.
Last year, the volunteers had held up banners informing devotees and tourists to be mindful of Thaipusam sparking a great following among followers in the social media.
Checkpoints will be set up at three locations — near the MRR2 bridge, Riverfront 1 and Riverfront 2 — with about 500 volunteers on duty to ensure order, added Shri Ramaji.