Tourists awed by Thaipusam festival


Hahndl hopes the beauty of the Batu Caves temple would be preserved.

The sun had yet to rise but the grounds of the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple at Batu Caves in Gombak, Selangor were already swarming with foreign tourists on the eve of Thaipusam.

Some wanted to be there early to capture that Instagrammable moment of the sun rising behind the giant Lord Muruga statue.

Others came with no expectations such as Andre Luiz Reicher and his fiance, Cristina Troian, both 34, from Brazil.Troian (left) and Reicher in front of the giant Lord Muruga statue.Troian (left) and Reicher in front of the giant Lord Muruga statue.

“When we arrived, we were fascinated by how beautiful and colourful the temple was,” said Reicher.

Troian was amazed by the unique structure of the temple built in a 400-million-year-old limestone cave.

“It was touching to see devotees making the difficult climb up the colourful staircase with its 272 steps,” said Troian.

British traveller Alex Walters, 28, who was equally captivated by the festivities, said he could feel the immense happiness in the air.

Walters, who had bought a flower garland to wear, was given a warm welcome by a priest who applied vibhuti (holy ash) on his forehead.

German tourist Torben Hahndl, 32, said a restaurateur in Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur told him about Thaipusam and suggested that he visited Batu Caves.

Hahndl hoped the beauty of the temple could be preserved for all time.

“Climbing the steps was an indescribable experience. I could feel the devotees encouraging me forward.”

Australian Ashraya Tattva Dasa, 52, a devotee who will be travelling around Malaysia for three months, said it was good that the temple committee had preserved tradition by holding the yearly celebration.

“The younger generation risk losing touch with their culture. Festivals like this help remind them of their roots.”

On the announcement that an escalator would be installed at the site, Ashraya said it would be good for the elderly and disabled but hoped the iconic stairs could be preserved.

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