ON Feb 5, thousands of devotees are expected to visit the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves in Gombak, Selangor to fulfil their vows and offer prayers during the Thaipusam festival.
Traders will also be allowed to set up temporary stalls around the temple compound after being unable to do so for the last two festivals.
This year, Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) is offering 236 lots to the public via balloting.
“About 15 lots will be allocated to associations for people with disabilities, while 221 lots are allotted to barbers and for general trading, including food and drinks.
“Of this number, 85 lots are categorised as ‘hotspot’ lots and have a higher fee compared to the rest,” MPS corporate communications department said in a statement.
Each trading permit costs RM200 or RM250 for those offering head-shaving service. At hotspot locations, permits cost RM500 or RM600 (for head shaving).
MPS added that the balloting would be carried out today and traders would be allowed to operate from Feb 3 to 6.
“By the end of the day, if there are remaining lots, those interested can apply for them at our headquarters.
“However, there will be additional charges depending on the type of business,” it said.
Traders are required to get vaccinated against typhoid and have food handling certificates if dealing with food and drinks.
The annual religious festival saw fewer participants in the last two years amid more muted celebrations as the authorities took steps to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19.
The last time traders were allowed to operate during the festival was in early 2020, just before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Traders were not permitted to set up around the temple at last year’s festival based on the Covid-19 standard operating procedure at the time.
Only the carrying of the paal kodam (milk offerings), prayers and chariot procession was allowed but without the kavadi.
Stalls were also not allowed to set up inside the temple compound, unlike previous celebrations prior to the pandemic.