MELAKA: Thaipusam celebrations at the Sri Subramaniar Devasthanam in Batu Berendam here should be turned into part of tourist attractions here, says state Agriculture, Entrepreneur Development, Agro-Based and Cooperative committee chairman Norhizam Hassan Baktee.
He said this was because Thaipusam was not only celebrated by the local Hindus but also by Taoist devotees as well.
"The temple in my constituency has been the epicentre for Thaipusam celebrations in Melaka.
"This year, the number of devotees at the temple has been overwhelming and we could make it a part of the state's tourism calendar," said the Pengkalan Batu assemblyman.
Norhizam said close to 10,000 devotees flooded the temple since the eve of Thaipusam on Sunday (Jan 20) and it shows the temple is gaining popularity among the locals.
"Previously, local devotees would drive to Batu Caves in Selangor for the celebration but this year, we saw a huge congregation of devotees here," he said.
The temple is a century-old place of worship that was built by then Malayan Railway staff.
Melaka had a rail connection since 1914 from the heart of the city to Tampin in Negri Sembilan before the Japanese occupiers took the railway workers to work on the Death Railway on the Kwai River in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, in the 1940s.
Since then, the railway line in the state was discontinued.
Norhizam stressed that the state government would continue promoting the multi-ethnic society that existed in the state since the Melaka Sultanate.
"We are unfazed by opposing voices from bigots, as we have been living harmoniously for decades," he said.
The temple's secretary S. Ravichandran welcomed Norhizam's proposal to turn the annual Thaipusam celebration into a tourism attraction.
He added that the temple was built through donations from local devotees.