Quiet but meaningful celebration

Visitors lining up to scan the QR code before entering the Snake Temple.

PLACES of worship on Penang island were in full compliance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the first day of Chinese New Year (CNY).

Only a handful of visitors were spotted at the Hock Hin Keong (Ban Ka Lan Snake Temple) in Bayan Lepas and they were all fully following the safety rules.

Balik Pulau OCPD Supt A. Anbalagan who visited the temple on Friday said he was satisfied with the compliance level there.

“The temple has all the SOPs in place and does full sanitisation after a batch of devotees has left before allowing a new batch in, ” he said.

Under the SOPs allowed for this Chinese New Year, only 30 people are allowed to visit the temples at any one time.

Supt Anbalagan also said police were monitoring most of the temples during the festive period to ensure everyone adhered strictly to the SOPs.

Over at Kek Lok Si Temple in Ayer Itam, devotees who visited the temple were extra cautious under the watchful eyes of the police.

Temple trustee Datuk Seri Steven Ooi said the crowd was much smaller than last year’s crowd and the visitors diligently followed the safety rules.

“A group of 30 people at any one time at the temple can easily fit into a corner of the temple.

“The small crowd was manageable and we didn’t encounter any problems, ” he said.

The scene was also similar at the Goddess of Mercy Temple (officially known as Kong Hock Keong) at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, where only about 20 people were around the vicinity.

This was in stark contrast with the usual huge crowd, especially outstation visitors, who throng the temple every year.

National Unity Department, Penang assistant director Othman Saad said a check by the department on 60 Chinese temples in Penang showed that some were still closed.

“Others were open but there were very few visitors as most had already decided to skip the traditional practice of visiting temples due to the pandemic.”

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