Altar maker gets inspiration from Year of the Monkey

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 03 Feb 2004


PENANG: For the past three months, V.M. Thuraisingham has been working painstakingly on a styrofoam statue of Hanuman (Hindu monkey deity) for this year’s Thaipusam festival. 

The 50-year-old religious altar maker said he would be carrying the 2.25m-high statue mounted on a steel frame from the Sree Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street to the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple at Waterfall Road on Thursday. 

He said he had chosen Hanuman to work on as he wanted to do something different for this year’s Thaipusam, which coincided with Chap Goh Mei, the 15th day of the Lunar Year of the Monkey. 

“I have based my design on the Thai version of the deity, which has intricate carvings especially on the face and costume and is very beautiful,” he said while busy putting the final touches to the statue. 

According to Hindu mythology, Hanuman was a deity renowned for his courage, power and faithfulness. He was Lord Rama’s key general during the battle with the evil Ravana, who had held Lord Rama's wife Sita captive. 

Thuraisingham said he had spent about RM2,000 on the statue, adding that he had to use a special glue to piece the styrofoam together, with the most difficult part being carving the intricate details on the face. 

Thuraisingham said he had been carrying the kavadi for the past 10 years after his wife M. Chandramala, 43, recovered from a thyroid operation in 1990. 

He said he had prayed hard to Lord Muruga to help his wife as she was initially suspected of having throat cancer. 

Thuraisingham (right) putting the finishing touches to the Hanuman statue.

“In fact, the whole family, including my two sons, Prakash, 25, and Prasad, 22, and daughter Praba, 15, had vowed to carry the paal kodum (milk pots) if my wife recovered,” he said. 

Shortly after, doctors confirmed that she did not have cancer but the less serious thyroid ailment. 

As for clerk S. Poobalan, he had been carrying the kavadi for the past 18 years to fulfil his vow to Lord Muruga after his mother suffered a stroke. 

“Being the only son in a family of six siblings, I made the vow seeking Lord Muruga’s help as my mother was paralysed from the leg down when I was only 14 years old. 

“She recovered soon after and could walk again,” he added. 

Poobalan, 32, said although his mother had died two years ago, he would continue to carry the kavadi for life “to thank Lord Muruga for all the good things that have happened in my life.”  

Learn all about Thaipusam from our website

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