IT may not have been Thaipusam but it sure looked like it, as thousands thronged Batu Caves on the morning of Aug 31.
It was the Batu Caves temples’ kumbhabhishekam or consecration ceremony, held once every 12 years.
A steady crowd started building up at about 6.30am to participate in the ceremony.
Batu Caves Sri Mahamariamman Temple Devasthanam chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said about 150,000 people attended the ceremony.
“We spent RM6.5mil to renovate, paint and beautify the area in preparation for the consecration ceremony. We started work early last year.
“The rituals went smoothly with all 13 temples in the Batu Caves grounds successfully consecrated as scheduled.
“It started with temples on the foot of the hill at about 7.30am and proceeded to the temples in the cave at about 9.15am.
“Prayers for the consecration ceremony started on Aug 26. We also invited local singers and musicians to perform on the temple grounds throughout the period.
“We are also grateful to the Tamil Nadu government for bringing a group of musicians to make this ceremony more momentous,” he said.
Among the crowd was a family from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. Accounting student N. Prisha Devi, 22, was with her father, retiree Nadarajah Arumugam, 61, and sister N. Anusha Devi, 28, to seek blessings during the consecration ceremony.
“We come to Batu Caves every year for Thaipusam prayers and being a Hindu and living in Kuala Lumpur, I think it is a must to visit this temple during ceremonial events.
“Plus, the colourful steps are now a unique feature of the temple. It is really nice and attractive,” she said.
There were also some who came to check out the steps, like sisters Nora Akma Liza Ahmad, 30, and Nur Syaidatul Azirah Ahmad, 24, from Gombak.
Nora said they used to jog in Batu Caves every weekend and liked to climb the steps for a good workout.
“We read about the multi-coloured renovations and were looking forward to seeing it for ourselves. After all, it is a holiday and our National Day, everything about this place is very cheerful,” she said.
Production manager Tan Q Ling from Kepong was also at Batu Caves with his son, Max Ong, 23, and his girlfriend Kwang Shei Chi, 22, all sporting a unity pin on their T-shirts and carrying a flag.
“The photos of the colourful steps that went viral on Facebook made us want to come here. So, we are here to celebrate National Day and just to have a good time,” Kwang said.
Ong said he did not expect the big crowd and was unaware of the temple’s ceremony.
Tourist Aida Kljunic, 28, from Slovenia and Carolina Salazar, 32, from Costa Rica took the opportunity to check out Batu Caves in between their transit flight to Doha.
Salazar said it was their first time in Malaysia and they decided to check out Batu Caves.
“We came at 8am and thought it was not going to be crowded. We did not know about the ceremony or the new look.
“But Batu Caves is as we had expected; you can feel the energy of the people. Everybody is happy and everything was really nice,” she said.