Thursday November 23, 2006
Batu Caves now on world map for Hindu pilgrims
KUALA LUMPUR: Many foreigners are making a beeline to Malaysia to fulfil their vows at the Batu Caves temple here, heralding a new wave of pilgrimage tourism in the country.
“Batu Caves is now on the world map for Hindu pilgrims,” said Malaysian Hindu Sangam president A. Vaithilingam.
“We should promote pilgrimage tourism as an event for Visit Malaysia Year 2007,” he said.
Barber M. Andy, who runs the only barbershop allowed within the Batu Caves temple premises, said that more than 200 foreigners visited the caves in a week to pay homage to Lord Muruga.
“This is a new trend in tourism. Although the visit is primarily spiritual in nature, they stay on and spend about a week visiting other attractions in the country,” said Andy, who has been shaving pilgrims’ heads for 20 years
Yesterday, Australian medical student Ramesh Sivabalan and his 10-month-old son Trishul shaved their heads as an offering to Lord Muruga.
Although Ramesh visited India for a week before coming to Malaysia, he chose Malaysia because Batu Caves is high on the pilgrimage list for Hindus, especially those who have made vows to Lord Muruga.
Ramesh, who took the opportunity to tour Malaysia during his six-day stay here, said, “the shaving pilgrimage to Batu Caves has been a family tradition for three generations.”
“This is a spiritual journey and it is a must for any new born in our family. I am really impressed with the excellent facilities Batu Caves has to offer to Hindu worshippers,” Ramesh told The Star.
He added that Batu Caves was easily accessible from the highway and that the barbershop was clean.
“The barbers are very professional in handling toddlers like my son who is not easy to shave as he kept moving.
“There wasn’t even a nick on his scalp,'' said Ramesh.