Thaipusam celebrations scaled down for second year due to Covid-19

KUALA LUMPUR: The Thaipusam celebration on Tuesday (Jan 18) at the Sri Subramaniar temple in Batu Caves, Malaysia will be a subdued affair for the second year in a row, instead of drawing in the thousands of devotees and tourists it used to.

The only consolation is that the sight of 'paal koodam' bearers in yellow carrying milk pots and the chariot procession, albeit in a limited scale, provides some indication of the celebration.

No thanks to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and the strict standard operating procedures enforced by the National Security Council to contain the pandemic, especially with the emergence of the Omicron variant that is said to spread faster.

With no kavadis allowed by the temple management, and the number of devotees entering the temple ground capped at 9,000 on the day, many will only find it fit to skip Thaipusam in Batu Caves and other major temples this year.

On Thaipusam day, 18 prayer sessions for the presiding deity Lord Murugan from 5am to 11am will be allowed with each session accommodating 500 people only to avoid overcrowding, a miniscule number compared to pre-Covid-19 days.

A check by Bernama found that the management of the Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple has also imposed stringent SOPs to restrict the number of devotees coming to the temple, as only several stalls selling flowers for prayers and food stalls can be seen open on the temple grounds.

The situation is similar in other temples in Malaysia where Thaipusam used to be celebrated on a grand scale, including at the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Kovil in George Town Penang and Sri Subramaniar Temple at Gunung Cheroh, in Ipoh, Perak.

The Thaipusam festival will be celebrated by Hindus around the world on Tuesday (Jan 18) in the month of ‘Thai’, which is the 10th month in the Tamil calendar, to commemorate the event where Lord Murugan received the sacred spear from his mother Goddess Parvati, to eliminate the evil demon, Soorapadman, and restore prosperity and human well-being.

Though Thaipusam is also celebrated in south India, Mauritius, South Africa, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, the celebration in Malaysia's Batu Caves and the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Kovil in George Town, Penang is the grandest of all and is widely followed by the south Indian diaspora. - Bernama

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Thaipusam , Kavadi , Covid-19


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