Posts Tagged ‘Batu Caves’

Mechanised paal abhishegam

January 28th, 2015
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Video source from The Rakyat Post:

Automated milk abishegam at Batu Caves

Picture source from The Rakyat Post

So, this year Thaipusam brings a new controversy at Batu Caves. The temple management introduced an mechanised method to conduct paal (milk) abhishegam (offering) for Lord Muruga. Usually, Hindus will do penance of carrying the paal kudam (silver container) for a distance and pouring it on Lord Muruga statue as way of fulfilling their vows, be it good results in exams, better job, recovery from illness, etc etc.

Fulfilling a vow is not just limited to the carrying and pouring of the milk. The person has to be in penance, like fast for certain amount of days, refrain from worldly activities as much as possible, be vegetarian and so on. The whole process is to reflect the hardship one is willing to go through in order to fulfill his/her part of the vow. And it ends as you offer your gift to Lord Muruga.

However due to very large number of devotees doing paal abhishegam at Batu Caves, the temple management find it hard to please those coming to pray who get blocked by the act of pouring milk non-stop. Imagine, even though Thaipusam is a week away, devotees had started fulfilling vows about a week earlier (since start of the month of Thai). Thaipusam falls on specific days, so I’m not sure if their vow is to do paal abishegam during Thai month or during Thaipusam day (but that’s another story for another day).

But this didn’t go down well those who intended to fulfill the vow and also many otherr Hindus. The general feeling is that the pouring of milk should done physically by the person or the priest.

The Hindu Sangam via its president also issued a statement (though I’m not sure why the statement is saying Dato Mohan Shan “vendukol” – request instead of Hindu Sangam “arivippu” – notice or “arikai” -statement).

Basically what the notice above states is that the practise of using mechanised method is not according Hindu agamas (scriptures dealing with temples, rituals, yoga, etc) as the items for abhishegam which is intended for Lord Muruga should not be poured into another container first. The excuse given that there’s lack of volunteers and priests to assist in the manual process should be tackled in other ways.

I’m not sure how the Mariamman Devasthanam can implement such decision without consulting the main Hinduism body in the country. Does this show some conflict or ego? Or lack of belief in MHS?

As for me, I would say, devotee need to be clear on what they vowed. There are many Murugan temples in Malaysia, so perhaps in future can vow in different temple. One can say, its the thought that counts, while another will say must do it as vowed. Each to his own, as we can’t know how God decides. This may be part of your Karma, for all we know.

Perhaps in future Batu Caves temple can issue limited place for paal abhishegam. Let’s say 500,000 and divided into different time shifts on the day. Same goes for kavadi bearers. So before you do the vow, you will need to buy the “voucher” earlier. Voucher should be non-transferable and sold in a transparent manner. Just my two cents.

Below is comment from Hindraf regarding the move by Batu Caves temple management.

Article from Rakyat Post:

For Hindus, paying penance to their deities by carrying milk pots is a common practice, especially during the annual Thaipusam festival.
This year, the Batu Caves Murugan temple management will be implementing a new system to ease congestion.
A spokesman said the temple would be using an automated system for the first four days of Thaipusam, which would see devotees emptying their milk pots into a drum.
The drum would then channel the liquid via hoses, to a pot attached to a machine inside the main temple, where the milk offering ritual is done.
Typically, the milk pots carried by devotees are passed to the temple’s priests, who will then shower the deities’ statues with milk while uttering mantras as a form of blessing.
“We just want to ease congestion during this festive period. We expect a huge crowd this time around,” said the spokesman.

This system, which has been in the testing stage the last two days, will only be used on the first four days of Thaipusam, which falls on Feb 3. It is not known how much the system costs.

Meanwhile, Hindraf has lambasted the temple management over the system’s implementation.
“Hindraf is totally mystified by the committee’s attitude in pursuing the system as it clearly desecrates the Hindu rites and practices.
“It appears that the committee has no regard for the feelings of thousands of devotees who have undertaken severe penance to participate in showering their Paal Kodam (milk pots) in the final ritual known as abishekam during the Thaipusam festival,” Hindraf chairman P. Waytha Moorthy said in a statement.
He added it was widely believed that the practice of showering milk on the deity was a process of cleansing oneself of one’s sins.
“Such practice is conducted worldwide in India, Fiji, Sri Lanka, USA, the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore during the Thaipusam month.
“Even in India, millions of people who bring their milk pots have the satisfaction of their milk being showered individually by priests, who normally chant mantras, as opposed to the motorised method intended to be practised in Batu Caves.
Waytha said motorising a “personal and spiritual” ritual not only desecrated Hindu rites, but also insulted individual devotees who had painstakingly undertaken severe penance to fulfil their devotion to the deity.
He called on the temple management to review the use of the machine, failing which he urged devotees to forgo Batu Caves and pay their penance elsewhere.

Cable car not feasible for Batu Caves Temple

July 10th, 2014
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So looks like no go for the Cable Car project. Safety is important. No point saying God will take care if we ourselves purposely ignore safety issues.

The committee should look at other alternatives. Lifts maybe? Rail car? Or alternative route specifically for the elderly, infirmed and disabled? Or get litter/palanquins with enough manpower to serve these folks?

 

THE RM10mil Batu Caves Cable Car project will most likely be scrapped as soil studies carried out by experts failed to confirm its feasibility.

According to the detailed soil stability report, the upper parts of the limestone karsts of the hilltop caves have been zoned as “high risk”, putting a stop to any possibility of development on the 400mil-year-old limestone caves.

A reliable source from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam committee has accepted the fact that the cable car project may not be feasible and will no longer push for it.

This was further confirmed when StarMetro visited the project site recently and found it to be cleared of construction equipment. The area had been resurfaced with tar and is now a carpark.

 The 130-page report was prepared by two academicians from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UITM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). It proved that parts of the area were unstable and highly vulnerable to damage, especially to the fragile karst.

Construction of Batu Caves cable car came to a halt as structures within the temple has allegedly been built without necessary documents.

A file photo showing the cable car project site.

The report was divided into two parts — Parcel 1 covered the Batu Caves reserve and Parcel 2 the Gombak Indah area. It presents the findings in a map format and highlights areas as low, medium and high risk.

Last year, a team of state-appointed experts presented the first phase of the findings following a soil stability study for the Batu Caves reserve area to the Selangor Economic Action Council (MTES).

Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) president Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said the academicians report confirmed the team’s initial findings that the upper parts of Batu Caves, where the Sri Subramaniar Temple is, were unfit to support the cable car project.

The Sri Subramaniar Temple is also a national heritage site.

“While the lower part poses no risk, the upper part poses ‘extreme’ risk, offering little or no possibility of development being carried out at the hill top area,”

“The temple committee was informed of the risks involved and we even asked them to sign a declaration undertaking responsibility for any future incident, thus indemnifying MPS against liability.”

Since then, the area has been tiled over to function again as a carpark, with nary a trace of the former hoardings and cleared ground visible.

Now, the area has been tiled over to serve as a carpark.

“Mitigating the risk is not going to be easy even if they want to have a cable car service, and I seriously doubt their engineers would want to take that kind of risk anyway,” he added.

He also added that the temple management had to ensure that all 10 structures in the temple were legalised, including obtaining safety certifications from the Fire and Rescue Department.

Mohd Azizi reiterated that safety was, and would always be, the council’s top priority, outweighing any other consideration.

Proponents of the cable car line argued that the system would benefit the disabled, senior citiziens, and people with health problems. The temple management have, for decades, been trying to build a cable car service at the iconic landmark.

Attempts were made in 1997, 1999 and 2007 but the project did not materialise.

In 2012, the temple management signed a deal with a company from India, to build a cable car system.

The cars would run from the cave temple complex to the carpark using a 150m cable.

The cable car line was to comprise a lower station near the foot of the temple staircase and an upper station near the hilltop temple. The project was supposed to be completed in 2014.

The development order for the cable-car project was approved by MPS in late 2011, but a stop-work order was issued in 2013 to compel the temple management to submit their documents to legalise the other existing structures on the premises.

MPS also asked the state government to allow for the soil study in the Batu Caves temple site to be completed to ensure the project was safe.

But, in July of the same year, the temple committee defied the local authority’s order and proceeded with soil piling work resulting in enforcement officers sealing off the project site after being tipped off that construction work that had resumed.

The Batu Caves temple management was also slapped with two compound notices totalling RM26,000.

Batu Caves, touted as a national treasure, draws millions of people from all over the world each year especially during the annual Thaipusam festival.

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Community/2014/07/10/No-go-for-cable-car-Parts-of-Batu-Caves-vulnerable-to-damage-say-academicians/

Largest Ponggal Pot at Batu Caves

January 15th, 2013
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Ponggal at Batu Caves took an unique look as a large 3 metre tall pot was used to cook the ponggal. An estimated 18,500 litres of milk were used. The ponggal was then used for offering and also distributed to the devotees. Its an entry in Malaysian Book of Records, and probably in the world records as well.  Government allocated RM80k via Culture Ministry

Yeah, its a tourist attraction and a chance to highlight the culture. Perhaps they should have also held a community ponggal session for those interested to cook their own ponggal as well.  That would have provided extra kick for tourists and visitors.

PS: I wonder with all the prominence given to Ponggal nowadays, got any chance of making it a public holiday ka? 🙂

 

Ponggal Batu Caves Milk Pot

image source: http://www.nst.com.my/streets/central/batu-caves-cable-cars-ready-by-2014-1.199127

 

It was a record-breaking Ponggal at Batu Caves last night when a 3m-tall pot was used to boil milk, making it the largest pot to be used for the festival in Malaysia.

The pot, which has a volume of 18,500 litres and weighs 700kg, entered the Malaysia Book Of Records as the largest pot used for Ponggal.

Onlookers, who were amused and amazed by the large pot, were seen taking photographs of it.

The pot was powered by several gas tanks and the milk inside had to be constantly stirred by two men.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who attended the Ponggal celebration at Batu Caves last night, took the opportunity to add milk to the pot to mark the momentous occasion.

“I’ve never seen a bigger milk pot in my life. I was told by Malaysia Book Of Records founder (Datuk Danny Ooi) that this pot, together with its stainless steel heating, is 2.7m in diameter, making it the world’s largest area to boil milk,” he said at the event last night.

Amazed: Visitors admiring the pot during the Ponggal celebration at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur.
Amazed: Visitors admiring the pot during the Ponggal celebration at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur.

He urged Malaysians to love the country for what it was and ignore what critics might say about the nation.

“Let us regard the Ponggal celebration as a sign that we are united. The ministry will always support the community in making this festival a success,” he said.

Sri Maha Mariamman Devasathanam temple committee chairman Datuk R. Nadarajah said he wanted to celebrate the festival with a large pot as a way of encouraging people to participate in cultural celebrations such as Ponggal.

“Our intention is to promote the arts and culture of the Tamil community,” he said.

On another matter, Dr Rais said the ministry was working towards having Batu Caves gazetted as a world heritage site by the United Nations by 2015.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2013/1/15/nation/12577037&sec=nation

PM Najib visit to Batu Caves controversy a failure of religious leaders?

February 15th, 2012
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I  can’t believe this! Just few days ago, the Mufti of Perak said the following things:

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria today expressed his dismay over the prime minister’s decision to “sacrifice his faith” to attend Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves recently.

 Harussani said even though he advised Datuk Seri Najib Razak every year not to join such events, the Barisan Nasional (BN) chief appeared not to place much importance on his faith or Islam.

It’s an idolatrous act. I don’t know why this happened… when we don’t join in the celebrations of other races in their houses of worship.

“The prime minister should have sent a Hindu minister to take his place… as Muslims cannot be involved in other religions’ festivities,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Harussani added that the minister in charge of Islamic affairs or a religious advisor should have advised Najib not to attend the event held two days ago.

We cannot join in (on other religions’ celebrations). They perform religious rituals, and as Muslims, we cannot be present,” he said, adding that going to open houses was acceptable but not places of worship.

source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/najib-sacrificed-his-faith-to-attend-thaipusam-do-says-perak-mufti/

Another article quoted the following:

The Ulama Association of Malaysia (PUM) has urged Muslims to stay away from non-Muslims religious festivals following the prime minister’s visit to Thaipusam celebrations last week.

 Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria had criticised Datuk Seri Najib Razak for “sacrificing his faith” by attending the Hindu festival at Batu Caves last Tuesday, the prime minister’s third visit in as many years.

PUM noted that guidelines set out by the National Fatwa Council on April 12, 2005 stated that Muslims cannot attend events which incorporate ceremonies that go against the teachings of Islam.

“Based on that decision, in PUM’s opinion, it is very clear that if the non-Muslim ceremony contains non-Muslim religious rituals, Muslims cannot participate as it can threaten their faith,” it said in a statement yesterday.

All religious authorities at state and federal levels should work to ensure that “correct advice” is given to political leaders and urged the latter to abide by such counsel, the association stressed.

PUM also called on the Islamic Religious Development Department of Malaysia (JAKIM) sponsor a dialogue session to explain the importance of this restriction to state and national leaders as well as Muslims.

It added that non-Muslims should understand and respect that faith was a core component of Islam and to be more sensitive to issues concerning the religion and its laws.

Najib’s visit to the annual Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves last week prompted Harussani to remind Najib that his predecessors had sent representatives in their place instead of showing up in person.

“It’s an idolatrous act. I don’t know why this happened… when we don’t join in the celebrations of other races in their houses of worship.

“The prime minister should have sent a Hindu minister to take his place… as Muslims cannot be involved in other religions’ festivities,” Harussani had told The Malaysian Insider.

The Perak mufti said that while it was acceptable for Muslims to go to open houses, they could not enter houses of worships where religious ceremonies were being carried out.

source: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/stay-away-from-non-muslim-religious-events-ulamas-tell-muslims/

And today, he does an about turn saying this:

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presence at the recent Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves was not against Islamic doctrine, said Perak mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria.

 He said this after Najib informed him what actually happened when he attended the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves, when the two met at the opening of a Pekan Umno-organised seminar on “Professionalism of Islamic Religious Speakers” by the prime minister, here, today.

What the prime minister did was to be at the hall to explain government policies, he was not involved in the religious procession and did not enter the cave temple,” Harussani said when met by reporters, here, today.
He said as a national leader, it was not wrong for Najib to be together with the other races in conjunction with a festival celebration.
“It’s okay if there is no intention of celebrating or endorsing the rites of other religions,” he said.
The Perak mufti was prior to this, quoted as saying that it was unIslamic for a Muslim to bless and join in a religious celebration in a temple.
On Najib wearing a kurta when witnessing the Batu Caves Thaipusam celebration, Harussani said it was only a traditional attire which was also worn by Muslims in India.
Instead, Harussani said, he was more disappointed with Pas’ action in Perak where during the Thaipusam celebration, they set up stalls and canopies and flew the Pas flag as though they were celebrating the occasion too.
— BERNAMA

source: http://www.nst.com.my/latest/pm-s-presence-at-thaipusam-celebration-not-unislamic-perak-mufti-1.47075?localLinksEnabled=false

That’s one hell of a turnaround indeed!

To make matters worse, not only the Perak Mufti is confused, so is the the others like “oxford trained people” below:

It is all right for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as a Muslim leader, to attend non-Muslim religious celebrations like Thaipusam if he follows established guidelines, said a former Perlis mufti.

As a (national) leader and administrator, attending (a non-Muslim religious celebration) to give advice is allowed, as long as he is not involved in the disciplines and rituals of another religion,” said Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

The Oxford University visiting lecturer said that Muslim leaders attending such events cannot display aspects of their dressing, or perform any act, that condones the rituals of another religion.

The only error was that the PM was involved in a ritual.

“That does not mean he is apostate. Maybe he was not given proper advice,” opined the former mufti.

Asri explained that the proscriptions of Muslims attending non-Muslim religious celebrations are not absolute and depend on the situation at hand.

For one, he said, that those involved in administration of the event and public order such the police, are allowed to attend.

Perlis mufti Juanda Jaya agreed, blaming the premier’s religious advisors for neglecting to advise him better.

“Guidelines about this matter are there. I am disappointed with the PM’s religious advisors. This will mar the PM’s image,” he lamented.

Last week, Najib attended the Thaipusam celebrations in Batu Caves, decked out in a light yellow kurta (an Indian traditional outfit).

He was draped with a silk cloth and also donned the traditional Indian flower garland.

Najib’s actions had drew the ire of Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria, who slammed the leader and expressed disappointment, accusing Najib of cheapening the Muslim faith with his annual Thaipusam visits since becoming PM, despite advice to the contrary.

source: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/189173

pic from The Malaysian Insider.

Among the contentious issues where the attire he wore and the garland. It was said to be religious. Looks like the Mufti and his ilk need to attend some classes on religion and culture because they can’t seem to differentiate between the two. These kind of misinformed people can easily create havoc if not properly educated.  And I shudder to think that many Muslims are being influenced to be antagonistic towards other religions by these kind of misguided folks. So, everything would be viewed with a suspicious eye.

The attire is common in Indian sub-continent regardless of race. It may have even existed before these religions. Same goes for garlanding people. Its a culture to show respect towards the person. Its common to see in many events in India, like in schools, government functions, movie launches,  etc.

Temple and church weddings consist of religious rituals (as with many other religions). Does it mean that our Muslim friends cannot attend such functions? If that’s the case, what would the impression of Islam be on non-Muslims? Even our King attended Prince William’s wedding in a church. So how? These people rebuked him or not? Berani ke?

As explained by the PM below, those in power need to be careful with their words. Need to understand difference. I really wonder if these people have ever attended or mingled with Malaysians of other race/religion or not.

Efforts to promote understanding and awareness through discussion, dialogue and education are important so that the public understands clearly the differences and similarities between the various races in the country, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said the people should not be confused with what constituted cultural and religious beliefs.

Najib cited as an example, his attendance at the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves recently, which according to him, has been questioned by some quarters because he wore the “kurta”, a traditional Indian attire for men.

But they are not aware that in India, millions of Indians who are Muslims wear the kurta daily. Are they then not Muslims,” he said.

He said this when addressing a gathering of religious leaders in conjunction with “World Interfaith Harmony Week 2012” at at his official residence Seri Perdana here Wednesday.

Najib then gave the example of the attire usually worn by Malaysian Chinese Muslims Association (MACMA) president Datuk Mustapha Ma, which according to him, had Chinese cultural elements and should not be linked to the question of faith.

“He is a seventh-generation Muslim. This is a question of culture and not faith. Thus, issues like this, if we don’t understand, it could lead to suspicion and hatred among the races.

“As such, it is incumbent upon the committee tasked with interfaith understanding to clarify such matters,” he said.

Najib also said with the rapid advancements in information technology, whatever was said by anyone could spread like wildfire, causing the world we are in today to face a more challenging environment and requiring more efforts to promote understanding and awareneness on a continuous basis.

source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/2/15/nation/20120215183404&sec=nation

So, its indeed scary that we, after half a century of independence, and with the power of Internet, still not able to understand our fellow Malaysians culture/religion. We are living in our cocoons, imagining that we are right. And worse still, we are in the position to influence others, which can lead to hatred and anger. Our social and education systems seemed to have failed, by producing such folks.

World 3rd Ati Rudra Maha Yagna in Batu Caves

August 5th, 2010
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A six-day prayer event called Ati Rudra Maha Yagna that originated from India will be held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur next month.

The world’s third Ati Rudra Maha Yagna, considered by followers of religious guru Sathya Sai Baba as the highest form of worship to Lord Shiva, will be held in Batu Caves from Aug 7 to Aug 12.

Sri Subramaniam Swamy temple chairman Datuk R. Nadarajah said this would be the first time that the event had been held outside India.

“We are expecting about 5,000 participants in the six days,” he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Organising chairman Jullius Tan, who is also Persatuan Sathya Sai Nivas chairman, added the ceremony was to promote universal peace through the finding of oneself in meditation, mantras and prayers.

Also present at the press conference was former Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam.

The occasion will see 140 priests conducting the chants. There will also be cultural songs and other performances in the evening.

source: http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2010/8/4/central/6657917&sec=central