High-tech process to speed up ritual

Shorter wait: Thaipusam devotees at the Murugan temple in Batu Caves this year will have their milk offerings pumped to a pot (right) inside the main temple in a bid to ease congestion.

Thaipusam has gone high-tech as the milk offering at the Batu Caves temple will be pumped into a pot to save time and ease congestion.

Devotees can pour the paal abishegam’or milk offering into 1,300 litre stainless steel tanks which will be funnelled to a pot placed over the vel (spear) at the main Murugan temple in Batu Caves.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam honorary secretary R.T. Sundaram said the new system would help reduce the time taken by devotees to fulfil their vows.

“Every year, the number of participants goes up and it can take up to 12 hours for devotees to place their offering at the temple.

“The new system will simplify the process as devotees will not have to wait long to hand their pots.

“Traditionally, they had to queue up to give their milk offering to volunteers who would then pass them to the temple priests.

“They would also have to wait for the milk pot to be handed back to them. This is a long and time-consuming process,” he said when met yesterday.

The idea came from a similar system being used in the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra, India.

Sundaram added the system would also allow devotees and visitors to view the deity as there would not be too many people standing around to collect the pots.

However, the system is not compulsory.

“We understand that not everyone would feel comfortable pouring the milk into tanks.

“Those who prefer to pass their offering personally to the priest can still do so,” he said.

The system will be implemented from Feb 1 to 4.

When contacted, Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) president Datuk R. S. Mohan Shan said the issue of congestion could be resolved by having more volunteers.

“With more volunteers and priests, the length of time taken to give the offering can be shortened.

“Initially we were against the new system but we have since spoken to them about it and they have agreed to allow devotees the option of either using the system or personally handing them over to the priests,” he said in urging devotees to use the traditional method.

There were mixed reactions to the new system among Hindus.

Subang Jaya resident Gayathri Subramaniam, 43, said she welcomed the innovative idea.

“Every year, it takes at least two to three hours to pass the paal abishegam on Thaipusam Day.

“At least, with the new system it will take less time and people can focus on praying,” she said when met at the temple.

However, Kepong resident Selvaraj Duraisingam, 55, said the system was impersonal.

“Devotees go through a lot to ensure their milk offering is carried safely to the temple.

“To put it into a container feels disrespectful,” he said.

Some 1.6 million people are expected in Batu Caves during Thaipusam.

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