Annuar: Chariot will travel to Batu Caves and back minus usual procession

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Security Council (NSC) allows the chariot carrying the statue of Lord Muruga to travel to Batu Caves, without a procession, in conjunction with this year’s Thaipusam celebration, says Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa.

This was done as a mark of respect for Hindus, he said.

“NSC has discussed in detail and agreed to let the chariot go to Batu Caves at a stipulated time, either midnight or early morning, with no procession and for the return trip to be carried out in a similar manner.

“Only 10 temple personnel are allowed (to go along), with no music and with no stops anywhere.

“It is to be carried out in a simple and efficient manner, ” he said after handing over 15 Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) home ownership offer letters to Kwong Tong squatters.

The event was streamed live on the official Facebook page of the Federal Territories Ministry.

Annuar also said the Hindu community now had a clearer view and better understanding of the matter (Thaipusam celebration).

“NSC takes a serious view of the matter and DBKL will carry out enforcement to ensure that all conditions are complied with, ” he said.

On Saturday, Bernama reported Annuar’s announcement that NSC had approved the chariot procession in conjunction with the Thaipusam celebration.

He was reported to have said that the procession, from the temple in Jalan Bandar to Batu Caves here on Jan 27 and the return journey on Jan 29, would adhere to the conditions and standard operating procedure stipulated by DBKL.

Many were concerned and worried that the procession might lead to more Covid-19 infections.

Earlier yesterday, Penang Deputy Chief Minister ll Dr P. Ramasamy criticised NSC’s decision to allow the chariot procession to Batu Caves, saying that it was “irresponsible and smacks of double standards with total disregard for views from the state”.

Penang has cancelled prayers in its temples, chariot processions, different forms of kavadi carrying, mass haircuts and coconut breaking rituals. It has also disallowed the installation of panthal (stalls).

Since Thaipusam spans over three days, prayers have been barred but confined to temple committee members only, with the Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple making plans to telecast the prayers live.

“With the rise in Covid-19 cases, social and religious events must be controlled or regulated and exceptions cannot be allowed here and there, giving an impression that we are not serious in flattening the pandemic curve, ” Ramasamy said in a Facebook post before Annuar’s latest announcement.

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