GEORGE TOWN: With Thaipusam celebrations at temples called off this year, event emcee L. Vimalesvaran still managed to keep the tradition alive with a moderate commemoration at home.
Together with family members, he paid homage to a fully decorated statue of the deity Lord Muruga at his house in Gelugor.
The makeshift altar was complete with offerings and a colourful arch decorated with lights and almost 1,000 peacock feathers.
With all the set-up and Lord Muruga’s vel (spear) in place, Vimalesvaran and his family started performing the ritual, including offering milk and smashing a coconut in front of the house.
“This is the first time we are celebrating Thaipusam at home. Public celebrations were not allowed at the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple at Waterfall Road this year, ” said Vimalesvaran, 56, when met at his home yesterday.
He said having witnessed grand Thaipusam celebrations in Penang for over half a century, he understood the importance of preserving the tradition and religious rites.
“With temples closed due to Covid-19 concerns, all eight members of my family marked the festival at home with prayers and decorations, ” he said.
The Penang government has decided not to allow mass prayers in related temples, chariot processions, different forms of kavadi carrying, mass hair cut and coconut breaking rituals.
It has also disallowed the installation of panthal (stalls).
Since Thaipusam spans over three days starting on Wednesday, mass prayers have been confined to being conducted by temple committee members, with the Waterfall Hilltop Temple telecasting the prayers live.
Vimalesvaran, who spent the last 40 years making Thaipusam kavadi out of passion, said the festival was quiet this year.
“I used to make at least 12 kavadi for customers each year but this year, there were no orders, ” he said.
“In previous years, I would usually be busy performing piercing rituals for my eldest son and my youngest brother. But not this year.”