THAIPUSAM festival, which is celebrated on a grand scale in Penang annually, will not be held this year.
Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy said the state government, through the Penang Hindu Endowments Board, has decided to call off the festival, including the chariot processions, due to the rise of Covid-19 cases in the country.
Ramasamy said other external traditional activities such as the bearing of kavadis and milk pots (paal kudam), food donation (anadhanam) and head shaving ceremony are not allowed as well.
“Based on the reports by the Health Ministry, we can see an alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia.
“Thus, it is the responsibility of both the PHEB and the Chettiar temple to ensure that we do not worsen the situation.
“We want to cooperate and listen to what the authorities are saying especially the National Security Council (MKN)
and have decided to call off the chariot processions,” said Ramasamy during a press conference today at Komtar.
Thaipusam, which falls on Jan 28 this year, is celebrated over three days.
In the past, thousands of devotees flocked to the yearly festival that also drew plenty of tourists. The highlights included the departure of the golden and silver chariots from their respective temples, and then the celebration proper and the return of the chariots to their respective temples.
Ramasamy said two temples, namely Waterfall Hilltop Temple and Nattukottai Chettiar Temple (Jalan Kebun Bunga), would be conducting prayers to mark the celebration of Thaipusam starting from its eve on Jan 27 till Jan 29.
“The devotees are not allowed to visit the temples on these particular days as only the priests and temple committees would be performing the prayers.
“We hope that the devotees would give their cooperation by conducting prayers at their respective homes,” added Ramasamy.
Waterfall Hilltop Temple chairman Datuk R. Subramaniam said the temple is planning to stream online the rituals performed in the temple throughout the festival.
Subramaniam added that the temple would not accept Thaipusam vows from devotees prior to the celebration this year.
“On Jan 14, we will be welcoming the month of ‘Thai’ which is an auspicious month for the Hindus.
“So, those who wish to perform the prayers concerning it are subject to a strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“And we will stop receiving visitors to the temple starting from Jan 26 onwards,” added Subramaniam.
Also present were representatives from MKN, Ministry of National Unity, and state Health Department.
Story by Tanushalini Moroter
Pix by Alissala Thian