Visitors throng Batu Caves as Thaipusam draws near


KUALA LUMPUR: Devotees and visitors have begun to congregate at Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves here on Sunday (Jan 16), eager to fulfil their vows and offer prayers ahead of the actual festival day this Tuesday (Jan 18).

Most were seen bearing the Paal Koodam, a milk pot, on their heads, which contents they would pour over the statue of Lord Murugan when they reached the temple within the caves complex as their offerings to him.

Checks by Bernama as early as 8 am found that many visitors of various races took the opportunity to drop by the temple to take part in the festivities themselves, subject of course, to the standard operating procedure (SOP) set.

Only several stalls selling flowers for prayers and food stalls were open in the temple grounds, a far cry from the pre-COVID-19 pandemic years.

Batu Caves Information Office officer K. Tamilvaani said they received visitors who came to pray as early as midnight.

The 31-year-old woman said that all visitors had thus far complied with the set SOP, including registering using MySejahtera, scanning their temperature and being issued a tag during the duration of their visit.

She said only 500 people were allowed to enter the temple grounds at any one time to ensure physical distancing and to avoid crowding.

“We also make public announcements periodically to remind visitors to wear face masks and to keep their distance in addition to conducting sanitisation work after every prayer session,” she told Bernama.

Meanwhile, Selangor police chief Datuk Arjunaidi Mohamed said in press conference today that the current situation at the temple grounds was under control and that things were going smoothly.

“Overall, 1,500 police personnel are involved, with the assistance of other agencies, including the Fire and Rescue Department, the Selayang district council and the Health Ministry,” he said.

Devotees, meanwhile, expressed their happiness at being able to fulfil their vows and conduct their prayers in a comfortable and organised manner.

Devotee N. Lokizhwaran, 25, said he was more comfortable even with the tight SOP enforced.

“Previously, I had to take four hours to reach the temple in the caves because of the massive crowd but today I managed to complete my prayers in 30 minutes,” he said.

Another devotee, D. Dashieny, 26, concurred, saying that the festive atmosphere was still there, with shouts of ‘Vel Vel’ although there was a lack of music blaring in the background.

“For me, there is an air of calm and spirituality surrounding the celebration this year,” she added. – BERNAMA

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