Volunteers liven up Thaipusam at Batu Caves

(From second left, front row) Veera and Manoharan giving out free mooru along with other volunteers.

In the spirit of Thaipusam, volunteers were spotted giving out free food and drinks and singing devotional songs (bhajan) at the Batu Caves temple grounds in Gombak, Selangor.

Volunteer Veera Ramanathan, 91, who is Indian Printers Association president, said he had served more than 15,000 cups of free spiced mooru to devotees and visitors going to the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple.

“We have been doing this for 51 years,” said Veera.

“Every year, we collect up to RM8,000 in donations to make and give out the drinks.”

Accompanying Veera was his friend Manoharan Rengasamy, 68, a former senior executive of Star Media Group.

Also present was Veera’s grandson Vinothan Venugopal, 33, who pledged to carry on his grandfather’s legacy.

According to Vinothan, there were close to 10 stalls serving free drinks to visitors this year.

Seen near the entrance of the temple complex giving out orange drinks were Criminal Investigation Department’s Intelligence, Operations and Records Division principal assistant director Datuk Shanmugamoorthy Chinniah and Selangor deputy police chief Datuk Sasikala Devi Subramaniam.

The drinks stall has been part of the police’s corporate social responsibility efforts for the last 32 years.

Volunteers comprised police personnel, their family members and friends from Klang Valley.

According to one volunteer, the police personnel raised donations to buy the drinks.

Shanmugamoorthy (second from right) and Sasikala (right) serving free drinks to devotees and visitors. — Photos: AZMAN GHANI and GRACE CHEN/The StarShanmugamoorthy (second from right) and Sasikala (right) serving free drinks to devotees and visitors. — Photos: AZMAN GHANI and GRACE CHEN/The Star

Kuala Lumpur Immigration Department deputy director Vishnutharan Kalimuthu, 38, could be seen helping out at a free drinks stall.

The department has been a part of the Thaipusam celebration there for the last 10 years.

For lawyer Chandra Teeban Baskaran, 27, who gave out free mooru at another stall, this is his second year volunteering.

“Volunteers like us work from 10am to 10pm, but we are not bothered by the heat and fatigue.

“We are content as long as we are able to see the smiles on the faces of devotees and tourists,” he said.

Volunteerism is also a family affair at the festival.

One example is a stall that has been distributing free vegetarian food to visitors for 45 years.

Food stall volunteer Shanmuga Sundram, 43, said his parents started the tradition.

“To show their gratitude for having their vows fulfilled, they aspire to do good deeds by serving food to devotees,” said Shanmuga.

Dolak player Navinkumar cradling his daughter Akshayani during a morning performance.Dolak player Navinkumar cradling his daughter Akshayani during a morning performance.

Other volunteers include the family of mobile telecommunications site engineer Jedathesan Muthukaruppan, 43, followed by the family of Kandasamy Eagambaram, 52, who is a main sponsor of the food stall.

They are assisted by Punitha Subbiah, 68, who has been in charge of the cooking for 45 years.

Joining Punitha is her sister-in-law, Anusha Moorthy and her husband Santana Subbiah, both 65, who help with logistics and food distribution.

Adding to the joyous atmosphere at the grounds is Navinkumar Gopal, 33, who has been playing the dolak for Sri Ramakrishna Bhajans group for seven years.

Cradling his one-year-old daughter Akshayani, Navinkumar performed for an audience without missing a beat.

“I’m doing this for the love of God and my daughter,” he said.

This year, despite the huge crowd, the Batu Caves temple grounds was not littered with rubbish as volunteers from Hindu temples in Klang Valley and non-governmental organisations had formed a task force to ensure cleanliness in the area.

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thaipusam , festival , volunteerism , batu caves


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