PETALING JAYA: With less than a day before Thaipusam, an NGO has made an eleventh-hour plea to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to lift the ban on kavadi processions.
Hindu Agamam Ani Malaysia president Arun Dorasamy said it was unfair to ban kavadi processions just four days before Thaipusam on Tuesday (Jan 18) as devotees had spent the last 48 days fasting in preparation.
"This is unfair and more so when you are banning kavadi.
"Without kavadi, there is no Thaipusam," he said when handing over a memorandum in Putrajaya on Monday (Jan 17).
"I humbly ask the Prime Minister to intervene and lift the ban on kavadi processions," he added.
Kavadi bearers practise abstinence for 48 days leading up to the annual Thaipusam festival.
Arun also said he decided to raise the issue because he only found out about it some 72 hours ago and time was needed to brainstorm ideas.
"Putting things together takes time.
"The devotees fasted for almost 48 days. We don't want to do this to them. It is so unfair and wrong," said Arun, adding that they would be overjoyed if the ban gets lifted.
Arun also criticised National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique over the Thaipusam standard operating procedures, asking if she had consulted stakeholders before finalising the regulations.
"According to the minister, all stakeholders were consulted but why are some temples not (following), especially those in Batu Caves, Ipoh and Penang," Arun said.
Arun also claimed there were inconsistencies in the SOP and urged the Prime Minister to allow kavadi processions to take place subject to the same measures imposed on devotees carrying the paal kudam (milk pots).
"Let's use the paal kudam SOP on kavadi processions. We don't have to make this difficult," he said.
Last week, Halimah said only 6,000 devotees would be allowed in Batu Caves on Jan 16 and 17 while on Thaipusam (Jan 18), there is a limit of 9,000.
Halimah also said kavadi processions were banned to keep Covid-19 at bay.
She said devotees would only be allowed to carry milk pots to fulfill their vows.