Sunday January 31, 2010
Over a million throng Batu Caves
KUALA LUMPUR: Over 1.6 million people — more than one million of them Hindu devotees — packed the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple Batu Caves, some as early as 5am, for the Thaipusam festival.
Just like in previous years, thousands of devotees carried pal kodam (milk pots) and the kavadi to fulfil vows made to Lord Muruga.
Satya Muniandy, 33, the former Malaysian gold medallist in karate at the 1998 Asian Games carried the kavadi yesterday to fulfil a vow made after praying for the health of his son Santosh, 11 months, and daughter Niveda, five.
“He fasted and only drank milk in the morning and at night. He also slept alone on the floor for 45 days before this,” said Satya’s friend and former teammate, C. Muralitharan who was there to provide support.
Many devotees, young and old, were also seen shaving their heads before entering the temple. This was an act of devotion to Lord Muruga.
At a roadside tent, parents M. Parameswari, 36, and P. Murugan, 40, pledged to shave their three-year-old daughter M. Pavithra’s head for three consecutive years as part of their family tradition.
“My parents did the same thing for me. So, I am continuing the tradition,” said Murugan as he held Pavithra while the barber shaved her head.
Preschooler Sri Devyasheni, five, also shaved her head as an offering to Lord Muruga to guide her in studies.
“She insisted on it. I did not want to disappoint her,” said her father Muthamil Maran, 58, a bank executive from Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, foreign tourists visiting Batu Caves were awed with the colourful and lively Thaipusam celebration.
Kreig Sylvain, 27, from Switzerland came to see for herself after hearing so much about the Thaipusam celebration.
“It was really an eye-opener. In Switzerland, we celebrate our festivals in church and people have this serious look on their faces.
“It is so different here, people are smiling and enjoying themselves. It is really cheerful,” said Kreig, who works in Malacca.
Lesley McBride, 32, from Scotland said this was her first visit to Batu Caves and it was an amazing experience.
“The colours, the exotic smell and the lively music. Everyone here is so devout,” said Lesley, who lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband Scott.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Velu and Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan were also present.
Samy said the celebration this year were special as the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor visited Batu Caves on the eve of Thaipusam.
Police estimated at least 1.6 million people had gone to Batu Caves throughout the Thaipusam celebration.
No major incident was recorded.