ALOR SETAR: The Thaipusam “public holiday” in Kedah is an “event holiday” (cuti peristiwa) and not a gazetted holiday.
Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor’s special officer (Indian Affairs) B.K. Kumaresan said the holiday would be “renewed” every year through a state exco meeting.
“It is not a gazetted holiday but one that is observed for a public event. Since the Thaipusam festival is not to be held due to the movement control order, the holiday is cancelled, ” said Kumaresan yesterday.
“Unlike a gazetted holiday, which is given every year, this is at the discretion of the state, and since there is no festival, the exco made a decision to cancel it.
“Furthermore, all schools are closed due to the MCO, so there isn’t any need to make it a holiday.
“A public event must be held to qualify for the holiday, even though people will be praying at home.”
He gave the explanation when asked why the state was not giving the holiday for celebrants to pray at home for Thaipusam.
Kumaresan said the holiday could be used later for other festivals this year, such as an additional day for Deepavali.
However, he was non-committal about whether it would be given if a request was made.
Sanusi drew flak from non-governmental organisations for cancelling the holiday, which was given since 2017 in Kedah.Former MIC secretary-general Senator S. Vell Paari said Hindus carried the kavadi during Thaipusam to fulfil a vow, before which certain things must be observed, such as fasting.
“But due to the SOP, there will be no kavadi processions or mass gatherings. But nothing stops one from doing this at home, ” he said, adding that there were various different kavadi.
“One can carry a small or big kavadi to his altar depending on the size of his house. However, it would be difficult to do this if there is no public holiday, ” he said, adding that Hindus had been observing Thaipusam for thousands of years.
“The SOP for the MCO is in place. So, why do you need to cancel the public holiday?”
Malaysia Hindu Sangam Kedah chairman K.S. Maniam said the holiday should be allowed as devotees would carry out pooja (prayers) at home during Thaipusam.
“It deprives devotees from being with their families to perform the prayers, ” he said.
Sri Subramaniam Swami Devasthanam temple chairman Rajendran Periasamy urged the state to reconsider the decision as devotees would have vows and penance to fulfil on Thaipusam, albeit at home.
The temple in Sungai Petani is the focal point of Kedah’s Thaipusam celebrations since 1919, drawing more than 300,000 devotees every year.
“The rites will be performed at home. Even though the event is cancelled, it must go on unhindered, ” he said.
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