THOSE celebrating Tamil festivals this month are advised to keep it low-key.
The upcoming celebrations are the harvest festival Thai Ponggal on Jan 14 and Thaipusam, a day to pay tribute to Lord Murugan, on Jan 28.
With the country still under the movement control order, Malaysian Hindu Sangam president RS Mohan Shan said celebrants and devotees must prioritise safety and health on both occasions.
He reminded that large crowds in temples and public places go against the National Security Council’s (MKN) standard operating procedures in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said temples in Kuala Lumpur allowed up to 30 people at a time with a one-metre physical distancing rule, while temples in Selangor had a 1.5m physical distancing rule with a maximum of 20 people at a time.
“For Thai Ponggal, I advise everyone to have their celebrations at home and not to organise or participate in any community event, unlike the norm in past years.
“We shall pray for the pandemic to be over soon and our lives to resume normalcy, ” he said.
For Thaipusam, Mohan said they were awaiting MKN’s decision on the proposal from the temple management.
He explained that the National Unity and Integration Department (JPNIN) had held meetings with the five temples at the centre of Thaipusam celebrations in the country, including the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevas-thanam, which is in charge of the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam in Jalan Tun HS Lee and Batu Caves temple in Selangor.
“The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam has given its proposal to JPNIN, which is now seeking approval from MKN.
“A decision will be made this week.
“The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam has proposed that the silver chariot continue its customary journey from Sri Maha Mariamman Temple to Batu Caves but without the usual procession.
“The chariot will also make a non-stop journey back after the celebration is over, ” he said.
“Another proposal is that only two other persons be allowed to follow a devotee carrying a milk pot or kavadi to the Batu Caves temple.
“Regardless of MKN’s decision, I hope people will self-regulate and follow Covid-19 prevention measures, and only visit the temples or other public places if it is absolutely necessary.
“We do not want any cluster originating from these festivals, ” he added.
Mohan said he would be preparing circulars for the temples on the matter.