THE Thaipusam Task Force’s (TTF) efforts in making Thaipusam a holy festival in Batu Caves seem to have had a positive impact.
During the festival in Batu Caves on Feb 3, it was estimated that almost 70% of devotees who bore the kavadi had followed the guidelines set by TTF, which was produced by the Malaysia Hindu Sangam.
TTF comprises 118 Hindu non-governmental organisations and temples nationwide. The task force wants temple grounds to be sacred places of worship and not become a place for parties and other such activities.
TTF members carried placards and pamphlets to educate the people during the Thaipusam celebration and a signature campaign was also held.
Among the items banned from kavadi were knives, tridents, and parang as well as durian, chillies and apples. Kavadi that disrespect and mock the religious festival by having logos of soccer clubs and companies deemed inappropriate were also banned.
Besides this, TTF’s guidelines were also aimed at traders selling masks, horns, toy guns and other items that could jeopardise the safety of tourists and people at the festival.
The message was very clear to traders after the TTF was formed last year and volunteers went about together with Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) enforcement officers and the police to check the traders and seized items.
During the TTF rounds on Feb 2, the volunteers warned traders to remove items such as toy guns, knives, horns and other dangerous items. Those who ignored the warning would have the items seized immediately.
However, TTF could only carry out its checks outside the temple area as it was not allowed to do so within the temple grounds, which was under the jurisdiction of the temple committee.
A visit to the temple grounds by StarMetro showed that the traders inside were selling the banned items.
TTF coordinator Gunarajah R. George said on Feb 3, TTF committee members seized items such as parang and cigars from traders at the Thaipusam festival in Kuala Selangor.
“We also worked with the police and MPS in getting rid of illegal carpark operators that mostly operate under the cover of night on Feb 2 and 3, when huge crowds gathered in Batu Caves.
“The police were unable to handle these operators as they had to be responbsible for crowd control and the operators would collect RM10 per vehicle in the back alleys of the nearby industrial area,” Gunarajah said.
However, he said the police did a great job in stopping parking touts from collecting money from motorists who parked along the MRR2 highway as policemen were stationed every 50m to 100m along the highway.
This was the first time during the Thaipusam festival that the MMR2 was free of these touts and Azmin also commended the police for the great job.