Cracking show of Malaysian inclusivity

GEORGE TOWN: The diversity and inclusivity that is proudly Malaysian was proven yet again at the start of Thaipusam celebrations today everywhere in the country.

In Penang, among the sea of tens of thousands of ethnic Indians yesterday were thousands more non-Indians.

Their skin colour was different, but their shared spiritual devotion was the same.

Engineer Loh Vee Chin, 52, has never missed out on celebrating Thaipusam since he was in his 20s.

He was spotted among the crowds waiting for the signal to break coconuts to “cleanse” the streets before the chariots approached.

“I used to celebrate Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur. After moving to Penang about 20 years ago, I continued to do so here.

“Worshipping on Thaipusam continues to be my belief and motivation for success.

“This year, I pray for the betterment of our country and the well-being of my family,” said Loh, who was there with his wife and four daughters to break coconuts.

Tuition teacher Jason Lee, 42, from Alor Setar, who was visiting Penang as part of his Chinese New Year holiday, also took the chance to break coconuts for good luck.

“My mother succumbed to Covid-19 in 2021 and my wife suffered from the infection. Although life goes on, I now cherish them more than ever. This Thaipusam, I’m breaking a few coconuts to wish good health and fortune to everyone, and may there be an end to Covid-19,” he said.

For the past 50 years, NS Thanaletchumee’s family have been travelling from Seremban to Penang to celebrate Thaipusam.

After a two-year break due to Covid-19 in 2021 and last year, the 77-year-old is back with her seven family members.

“My husband used to come here every year to pray for the family’s good health. Although he passed away in 2018, we still continue the tradition,” she said when met at the procession of the chariots in Jalan Magazine here yesterday.

Thanaletchumee was in a wheelchair making her offerings.

This year’s celebration marks the return of Thaipusam as it had been celebrated for decades before Covid-19 struck in 2020.

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