KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of Hindus in Malaysia celebrate Thaipusam today in honour of Lord Murugan, revered by Tamils.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak also witnessed the celebration where he made a brief address to the more than 1.3 devotees and visitors who flocked to the Sri Subramaniyar Temple in Batu Caves, near here.
The hot weather did not deter about 2,000 devotees from walking in a procession and carrying the palkudam (milk pots), while over 1,000 carried the kavadi (decorated wooden or bamboo structures). Devotees also smashed coconuts and shaved their heads as an act of penance.
Traffic flow and the crowd situation in and around Batu Caves, which is a major tourist spot, was under control with the presence of 1,200 police personnel and members of the Federal Reserve Unit.
Until noon, traffic flow on roads leading to Batu Caves was smooth except on the MRR2 where there was congestion, especially early morning.
Like in previous years, foreign tourists also flocked to Batu Caves to watch the colourful celebration, with many climbing up the 272 steps to the temple.
A tourist from Perth, Australia, Daniela Kelly, 34, said although she had visited Malaysia twice, she had never seen a unique celebration that gathered so many visitors at one time.
“It is very colourful, and of course I will not miss the opportunity to see the celebration again next year,” she said.
Cho Sung Wook, 36, from South Korea, said he was amazed at the celebration and would share his wonderful experience with his friends when he returns home.
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mainly by the Tamil community o the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January or February).
Also known as Thaipooyam in the Malayalam language, the festival celebrates the birth of the Hindu god, Murugan, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
It also commemorates the occasion when Goddess Parvati gave Murugan a spear, so he could vanquish the evil demon, Soorapadman, thence restoring peace and prosperity for the people.
In IPOH, more than 20,000 devotees converged at the Arul Subramaniar Temple at the foot of the limestone hills of Gunung Cheroh, since yesterday evening.
Several religious activities took place there in a colourful, joyful atmosphere while a procession carrying the statue of Lord Murugan wound its way from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Sungai Pari to the Gunung Cheroh temple.
There were also stalls selling clothes, toys, food and drinks at the Arul Subramaniar Temple grounds while a number of sponsors’ stalls gave free drinks to the devotees.
The road leading to the temple was closed yesterday and it will remain so until midnight today.
Carrying milk pots and kavadi, hundreds of devotees started walking for 10 kilometres in processions from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, passing through Jalan Sungai Pari, Jalan Tun Perak, Jalan Lahat, Jalan Sultan Yusuff, Jalan Sultan Idris Shah and Jalan Raja Muda to Gunung Cheroh since yesterday.
In GEORGE TOWN, over 100,000 devotees and tourists thronged the two main Hindu temples in Jalan Kebun Bunga for the Thaipusam celebration.
Among those who attended the celebration were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan and other party leaders.
Koh said Penang still attracted a lot tourists, especially during the festivals.
“We should strengthen relations among the races in Malaysia while celebrating this special occasion,” he said after visiting the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga.
Kaleen Aurek, 30, an engineer from Warsaw, Poland, said she had lots of stories to tell about the festival when she gets back home.
“It’s amazing to see them breaking so many coconuts and some with metal spikes piercing their bodies and faces while carrying the kavadi,” she told Bernama.
The Polish tourist admired the huge kavadis that were decorated with flowers and peacock feathers.
Source : Bernama