KUALA LUMPUR: The Batu Caves Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple committee is placing a great emphasis on the safety and wellbeing of the 1.6 million devotees and people who are expected to throng the four-day itinerary of Thaipusam events beginning Friday.

The temple committee's secretary, C. Sethupathy said since Thaipusam is a national public holiday on Sunday, and despite it being a Hindu celebration, it attracts a huge number of people from Malaysia and foreigners due to its unique heritage.

He said the committee was getting a lot of logistical support from various agencies from both the government sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

He said logistical preparations for the celebration had reached 90 per cent. The committee is getting help from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, police, Fire and Rescue Department, Health Ministry, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd and Malaysian Red Crescent.

"After two years, Thaipusam is being celebrated on a grand scale after we went through the height of Covid-19 standard operating procedure restrictions in the past two years. Now, people will once again see the full celebration and chariot procession.

"About 1.6 million people are expected to throng the streets to mark the annual Hindu festival, which is celebrated in honour of Lord Murugan, who represents virtue, youth and power."

"Due to that, logistical mechanisms were set up to manage the flow of the large numbers of people along the routes that will be used by devotees as they walk barefoot from the riverbank in Batu Caves to the bridge to fulfil their vows," he told New Straits Times today.

When one aspect of mammoth operations is looking over the celebration, he said temple committee would be assisted by about 1,000 Health Ministry staff and personnel throughout the four-day event.

The Health Ministry team is headed by Selayang Hospital emergency department head, Datuk Dr Mohamed Alwi Abdul Rahman. The team will be responsible for rendering first aid services and other medical emergencies.

The temple committee is mobilising more than 500 volunteers, including members of the temple's youth groups and NGOs, to assist and safeguard people at different times and locations.

"The volunteers' main responsibilities include managing the large number of devotees, helping with logistics, managing the area's cleanliness, and assisting the priest to pour devotees milk offerings over the statue of Lord Murugan in upper cave temple," he said.

Sethupathy added that volunteers had been instructed to divide the main stairway at the temple into four lanes: two for worshippers carrying "kavadi" and "paal kudam" (milk offerings) heading up to the upper cave temple, and the other two for those returning down to avoid a massive crowd.

He said unlike the past two years when SOPs were imposed and limited number of people were allowed, devotees would now be allowed to bring the kavadi.

"Some devotees, aware of the potential for large crowds had showed up at the temple early in order to fulfil their vows in peace during the Chinese New Year holiday and weekend."

A devotee known only as Magendran, 37, a lorry driver, and his family visited the Batu Caves temple today to offer a paal kavadi (kavadi bearing milk pots) in gratitude of his mother's successful eye surgery.

He said he arrived early to make his offering before the Thaipusam festival began since he finds it difficult to walk among huge crowds of people while making his offering.

Despite Malaysia moving into Covid-19 endemicity, Sethupathy still strongly recommended people to follow SOPs, including wearing masks, if they intended to join the celebration. He urged those with flu and fever symptoms to stay at home.

Sethupathy said a procession of silver chariots carrying statues of Lord Murugan and his two wives, the goddesses Valli and Devi Theivanai, would move from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Jalan Tun H.S. Lee to Batu Caves on Friday.

The procession would begin at 10pm and arrive at 3pm on Saturday at Batu Caves. The return journey of the chariot procession from Batu Caves back to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is expected to be from 3.30pm to 11.59pm on Monday.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

2023-02-01T11:25:17Z dg43tfdfdgfd