Posts Tagged ‘Batu Caves’

Guess who seated next to Samy Vellu?

February 10th, 2009
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Its none other than…..

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kenneth eswaran with samy vellu at thaipusam 2009

our good friend Kenneth Eswaran, current president of MAICCI who recently condemned Waytha and Denison Jayasooria in a media statement

More news on Thaipusam including football team kavadis

February 9th, 2009
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Penang (The Star):

Visitors to this year’s Thai­pusam festival had a taste of English Premier League action when fans of the game carried football-inspired kavadis. [unsuitable!]

Two die-hard football fans were spotted with kavadis bearing the emblem of their favourite teams – Manchester United (MU) and Liverpool.

A kavadi bearer, who only wanted to be known as Rosnathan, was carrying Liverpool’s red and white crest from a temple at Lorong Kulit to the hilltop temple in Waterfall Road to give thanks to Lord Muruga for the birth of his son on Jan 3.

A Liverpool fan showing his love for the team as he makes his way to the hilltop temple carrying the kavadi in Penang Sunday while (below) Manchester United fan does the same.

The kavadi, measuring more than three metres high, bore Liverpool city’s symbol – the Liver bird.

According to his friend of 15 years, Chris­topher Anthony Samy, the prison warden had been a Liverpool fan for more than four years and hoped his son would share his passion for the team.

“I am a Red Devil (MU) fan but I helped him make the kavadi because we are good friends,” he said, adding that the foam kavadi took about a week to complete.

A Manchester United fan does the same.

English tourist Claire Chuah said she was surprised that the EPL was popular in Malay­sia.

“In Britain, football is a passion but I did not expect it to be the same half way around the world.

“It’s so interesting how much of a fan these guys are, incorporating their love for the club with their religious beliefs,” the hardcore MU fan said.

Johor and Ipoh (The Star):

The blazing sun did not stop thousands of Hindus who offered prayers for Thaipusam.

The kavadi bearers walked for about two kilometres from the Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam Temple in Jalan Ungku Puan in the city centre to the Arulmigu Thandayuthapani Temple in Jalan Kuil.

Processions were also held from temples in Taman Seri Skudai and another near Plaza Angsana.

Pious: Devotees returning to the Sri Muniswarar Temple after a kavadi procession in Johor Baru Sunday.

N. Malini, 36, and her family were among those who offered prayers at the Sri Muniswarar Temple yesterday.

“My husband M. Vinod, 41, and my son V. Rakesh will shave their heads to offer their hair to the Lord.

“After that, all of us, including our two daughters, aged eight and 11, will join the paal kudam (milk pot) and kavadi bearers in a procession,” she said at the temple here yesterday.

Zohreh Karbassi from Iran got to learn a bit more about Thaipusam when she visited the temple.

“I heard about the piercing of one’s body with sharp objects and I decided to come and have a look,” said the 34-year-old doctor who was with her husband Soheil Sabri, 36, and friend Ala Amirfazli, 25.

Gaily-coloured stalls selling drinks, snacks, toys, clothes and religious paraphernalia were also set-up near the temples.

In IPOH, over 100,000 devotees were at the Kallumai Arul Subramaniar Temple at Gunung Cheroh for the festival.

Various religious rituals, including a procession from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple at Sungai Pari to the Subramaniar Temple took place.

Traffic congestions were reported in the city following closures in stages of several roads leading to the Subramaniar Temple.

Batu Caves (The Star):

Despite the scorching sun, more than a million people have thronged the temple in Batu Caves since Saturday to celebrate Thaipusam.

Thousands of devotees carried brightly-decorated ornate frames known as kavadi, some decorated with peacock feathers and garlands. Others carried milk pots.

Devotees carrying milk pots on their heads while making their way to the hilltop Batu Caves temple in Kuala Lumpur during Thaipusam sUNday. Braving the heat and human traffic, devotees carried out the Hindu rites and fulfilled their vows. The annual festival drew a crowd of 1.2 million. — S.S. KANESAN / The Star

The rituals were performed as acts of penance and to offer thanks to Lord Muruga, to fulfil vows and to repent for past sins.

Chants of “Vel! Vel!” and the rhythm of traditional drums followed the kavadi bearers.

The temple took a carnival-like atmosphere with stalls selling traditional Indian food and drinks, framed copper images of Hindu deities, religious literature and music discs.

Thaipusam marks the birth of Lord Muruga, the youngest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

For penance and gratitude: Devotees bearing kavadi and milk pots participating in the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves Sunday.

The festival also marked an occasion when Parvati gave Muruga a lance so that he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.

Sri Mahamariamman Devasthanam Temple chairman Datuk R. Nadarajah said many people took advantage of Thaipusam falling on a Sunday to visit the temple.

“In previous years, Thaipusam fell on a weekday ,” he said.

The National Blood Bank and the Sathya Sai Baba Centre of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor organised blood donation and organ pledging campaigns.

Massive celebration: Kavadi bearers walking up the steps to the temple at Batu Caves Sunday.

South African Sonja Gay, 47, and her husband Patrick Gay, 48, who were at the temple grounds, were amazed at the festival.

“This is so fascinating and we’ve never seen anything like it before! We plan to learn more about Thaipusam,” said Sonja, who blended in with the crowd in her Punjabi suit.

Patrick, who has been to India, said celebrations in Malaysia were grander than in India.

Oh Jun, 40, from Korea, did not mind climbing up the 272 steps to the temple.

“I was told there is a very sacred place up there and I want to see for myself why so many people brave the heat to climb up,” sai d Oh Jun.

Kuantan (NST):

Hindus and tourists celebrated Thaipusam at the Sri Sithi Vinayagar temple in Jalan Bukit Ubi here, where some 150 devotees fulfilled their vows by carrying kavadi and paal kudam (milk pots).

Preparations for the 3km procession from the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Jalan Kemunting began at 6am.

About 6,000 devotees attended prayers at the temple before lunch was served at 1pm. Teruntum state assemblyman Chang Hong Seong joined the luncheon.

“This celebration is a crowd-puller. I will work with hoteliers in the state to bring more tourists to witness the festivity,” he said.

“It is not only about the culture, but also the variety of food served on this auspicious day.”

Some 8,000 devotees followed the Sri Sithi Vinayagar temple chariot yesterday at 7pm through several housing areas before returning to the temple at midnight.

Batu Caves and Ipoh (NST):

The chanting of “vel, vel” rose above Batu Caves yesterday as an estimated 1.2 million Hindu devotees and visitors thronged the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple for Thaipusam.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the three-day festival was not only an auspicious time for Hindus, but also a well-known tourist attraction.

“I’m glad there were no untoward incidents,” he said.

More than 1,000 policemen oversaw traffic, safety and security, as a steady stream of devotees and visitors braved the steep 272-step climb to the Lord Murugan temple inside the cave.

There were also about 600 stalls selling an assortment of delicacies, souvenirs, prayer items, clothing and accessories, among others.

Thaipusam is celebrated mostly by the Tamils on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai when the pusam (star) is at its zenith (highest point).

The festival commemorates the birthday of Lord Murugan, the youngest son of Shiva and Parvati, and the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a vel (lance) to vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.

Kavadi attam is a penance performed by the devotees. Many carry the kavadi to seek the deity’s help in averting any calamity, while the rest do so to fulfil personal vows.

Among those present yesterday were Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel, MIC secretary-general and Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, Federal Territory MIC chief and Deputy FT Minister Datuk M. Saravanan, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk S.K. Devamany, Wanita MIC chief Datin Paduka Komala Krishnamoorthy and former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam.

In Ipoh, about 50,000 Hindus gathered at the Arulmigu Subramania Temple in Gunung Cheroh yesterday.

They had travelled from Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur with their families to pay homage to Lord Muruga and fulfil their vows.

New Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said he was impressed with the ease and security in which the Hindu community was able to perform their religious obligations. [alamak! don’t tell me he never visited Thaipusam function before as a tourist before this…]

Thaipusam news around the country

February 9th, 2009
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Going through the papers, I realised that Samy Vellu was in Batu Caves. Not sure what time he gave his speech (more on that later), but it did happen while I was there:

“I welcome all concerned Indians, including former MIC members and those from other political parties, to join the MIC as this is the only party that can effectively represent the interests of Indians,” he told reporters at the Thaipusam festival celebrations at Batu Caves today.

But watching the news was a bit disconcerting. I find it hard to accept that Malaysian newscasters can’t pronounce words like kavadi, paal kudam, Murugan etc. properly. I mean, we are not talking about some foreign stuff, but Malaysian event which have been in existence for more than a century!

By the way, recently reinstated MIC member, KP Samy asked the Batu Caves temple management to retract its police report on the HINDRAF rally attendees who camped in the compounds in the famous 2007 rally.

A MIC leader today urged the Batu Caves Hindu temple committee to withdraw police reports lodged against thousands of Hindraf supporters who had gathered at the temple on Nov 24, 2007.

MCPX

The crowd, which had gathered at the temple to take part in a massive rally the next day, was forcibly moved out of the temple compound by the police using teargas and water cannons in the early hours of Nov 25, 2007.

About 70 of them were subsequently charged in court for illegal assembly and destroying public property (the temple gates). The cases against them are ongoing.

Grassroots leader and Shahbandar Shah Alam MIC branch head KP Samy said that in the aftermath of the standoff at the temple, the temple committee had lodged police reports against the Hindraf supporters.

“Perhaps the temple committee as a goodwill gesture will withdraw the police reports in conjunction with the Thaipusam festival tomorrow,” Samy told Malaysiakini.

He said that the temple committee must remember that its actions in “shutting out” these people had resulted in a massive boycott of the Thaipusam celebrations in Batu Caves by the Indian community last year.

The former MIC central working committee member, who is known for his open support for the Hindraf cause, added the removal of the police reports by the complainants would make it easier for lawyers of those charged in court to make a representation to the Attorney General to drop charges.

“It has been more than a year now. Some of the people who have been charged are factory workers and students. Some are also from outstation.

“The trial has been a burden on them. It’s time the temple did something to close this chapter. Just withdraw the police reports,” he said.

Ok, enough of that, let’s see what the papers say.

NST report 1:

Thousands of Lord Murugan devotees thronged Batu Caves yesterday, the eve of Thaipusam, to climb 272 steps leading to the cave temple in an act of penance.

While the bigger kavadis were not seen before noon, a number of devotees comprising mostly women and children, started their climb early in the day at the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple.

Many were carrying paal kudam (milk pot), including 30-year-old Jana, who brought along her son, Tejesh, 4.

Clad in a yellow salwar kameez (Indian pants suit), Jana said she was fulfilling a vow she made “many years ago”.

As for her son, she wanted him to develop an understanding of religion and penance at a young age.

Another devotee, R. Prabaharan, 38, took his 5-month-old daughter, Yashirie, to the temple and got her head shaved.

“She had to undergo surgery when she was only two months old, so I made a vow for her speedy recovery. She is a healthy baby now.”

To the foreign tourists, the sight of the enormous golden Lord Murugan statue against the backdrop of the limestone hills was a sight to behold.

“We are passing through Kuala Lumpur and my sister, who has been here before, told us to visit Batu Caves during Thaipusam,” said Australian Kimberly Attard, who is here with her partner, Brad Taylor, both 19.

“We’re glad we came. It’s amazing.”

The tourists were enchanted by the sight of devotees carrying kavadis with hooks pierced to their skin, while moving in a trance to chants.

The temporary food stalls erected within the temple grounds were crowded with visitors buying sweets and savoury palagaram ( snacks).

However, it was sluggish sales at stalls selling clothes. [probably the economy plays a role as well]

T. Maheswaran, who runs a stall in Klang selling Indian accessories on weekends, hoped more people would visit at night.

“So far, it has been pretty quiet,” he said.

A. Sivanantham, who operates the 40-year-old Amutha Restaurant in the temple grounds, was busy at the cash counter.

His cooks had prepared vegetarian food for about 4,000 devotees yesterday, and he was expecting to serve some 6,000 today.

NST Report  2:

Devotees lined the streets to break coconuts in conjunction with Thaipusam yesterday.

A colourful chariot procession marked the start of the festival at 6am.

It started in Lebuh Penang and proceeded via Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Victoria, Jalan C.Y. Choy, Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat and Jalan Utama to the main temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga.

The silver chariot was made in 1894 by craftsmen from Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu, South India.

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival associated with penance and atonement and a day to repent by fulfilling vows.

More than 100 beautifully decorated thaneer panthal (makeshift refreshment stalls) were set up along the route, providing free vegetarian food and drinks to devotees.

More than 800,000 people, including tourists, are expected to take part in the three-day celebration.

NST Report 3:

More than 800,000 Hindu devotees braved the blazing sun to fulfil their vows on the second day of Thaipusam today.[something wrong with this report as its the FIRST day, not second!. And I’m not sure if 800k count is accurate]

It was a sight to behold as devotees carrying kavadi walked three kilometres along Jalan Air Terjun to the hilltop temple near the Botanical Gardens.

Overseas tourists were enthralled by the act of penance – the devotees moving in a trance with their kavadi with hooks piercing their skin.

John Pearce from the United Kingdom said it was an eye-opening experience.

“I love the sights and sounds of Thaipusam … the people are very warm, and explained the significance of the festival to my family and me. The electrifying mood has made my first trip to Penang a memorable one,” he said.

Japanese tourist Hidaki Tomoko praised the faith of the Hindu devotees fulfilling their vows. “I am impressed by their sheer determination to perform the ritual,” he said.

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival associated with penance and atonement, and a day to fulfil vows. The three-day celebration kicked off on Saturday. [what does it mean by 3-day celebration? Pusam star took its turn on Sunday 6.25am]

The 113-year-old grand silver chariot bearing the image of Lord Muruga left the Kovil Veddu in Jalan Penang at 6.30am.

Along the way, tens of thousands of devotees stretched out their hands, and trays filled with flowers, fruit, incense, burning camphor and perfumed joss sticks, to welcome Lord Muruga as the chariot made several stops along the 18km route to the Nattukottai Chettiar Thandayuthapani Kovil in Jalan Air Terjun.

The chariot, made in 1894 by craftsmen from Karaikudi in Chennai, South India, was used for the first time here for Thaipusam 1895.

Throughout its route, devotees broke coconuts, and more than 100 beautifully-decorated thaneer panthal, makeshift refreshment stalls, were set up providing free food and drinks to devotees.

IN PORT KLANG, V. Shankar Ganesh reports that 30,000 people celebrated Thaipusam at the Sri Balasubramaniar Swamy temple and the Sri Subramaniar temple in Kuala Selangor, a far cry from the 100,000 who thronged the two temples last year in a boycott of the celebration at Batu Caves called to protest the marginalisation of the Indian community.[have to wait for more reports from the two temples to estimate final numbers]

About 400 people carried Paal Kudam (milk pots) at the Port Klang temple, and about 20 kavadi. There were about 20 stalls and thaneer panthal, where free food and drink were available for the devotees. Makkal Sakthi also carried out a registration exercise for those without birth certificates and identity cards. This is the second year the temple is celebrating Thaipusam.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim visited the Sri Subramaniar temple in Kuala Selangor. He promised three temples in the state RM50,000 each to help them organise festivals.

The money is from the RM6 million annual allocation for non-Muslim places of worship in the state.

The Sri Balasubramaniar Swamy temple, the Sri Subramaniar temple and a third temple in Hulu Selangor will receive it.

Khalid promised to look into a request from the Kuala Selangor temple committee to place its Thaipusam celebration in the Selangor tourism diary.

State executive councillor Ronnie Liu visited the Port Klang temple and said the State would help organise the festival and make it grander next year.

The Star report 1:

Tens of thousands of devotees who had been gathering here since Saturday braved a scorching sun to pay their respects to the Hindu deity Lord Murugan and to received his blessings on Thaipusam.

The holy day has been a three-day festival for many because it fell on a weekend this year.

More than 1.2 million devotees, well-wishers and tourists are expected to visit Batu Caves and the Murugan temple here this year.

Large crowds accompanied thousands of devotees carrying colourful kavadi (ornate frames), pal kodam (milk pots) and pulling chariots as acts of penance and to give thanks to Lord Murugan.

Those running souvenir stalls and cafes are doing a brisk business, as are barbers since many devotees shave their heads.

Non-governmental organisations are also running blood and organ donation drives.

Many devotees had been making their way to Batu Caves since last weekend.

The Star report 2:

BATU CAVES: Tens of thousands of Hindu devotees carrying kavadi and milk pots are making their way to Lord Murugan’s temple in Batu Caves to celebrate Thaipusam this morning.

Over a million devotees from all over the country are expected to gather here, with thousands carrying colourful kavadi (ornate frames), pal kodam (milk pot) and pulling chariots as acts of penance and to give thanks to Lord Murugan.

S. Geetha Devi, 38, who is a volunteer with a movement to promote spiritual healing and meditation, said the devotees would carry milk pots and kavadi up the 272 steps to the heart of the cave, where the shrine of the main deity, Lord Murugan, is located.

“There are many ways to thank Lord Murugan such as shaving the head bald and by carrying milk pots or kavadi. The act of penance depends on the type of vow a person has made,” she said.

She added that those who carried milk pots or kavadi will undergo a cleansing ceremony at the riverside near the base of the temple.

She also said that devotees prepare for Thaipusam by observing certain rituals including being vegetarian, or fasting for weeks and in some cases even months before the festival.

Devotees have been making their way to Batu Caves since last weekend and many are expected to visit the temple after today to avoid the crowd.

Universiti Malaya undergraduate P. Vishalleey, 22, who was visiting Batu Caves for the first time, said the crowd here was smaller than the one in Penang.

“It was not very crowded today (Saturday), and this could be due to the SMSes and calls to boycott Batu Caves last year,” she said.

Ivan Zuzartee, 49, who is a Christian, said he had come with his family to witness the colourful occasion. His son Anton, seven, was thrilled that he got to climb the steps at Batu Caves.

There is also a 3D exhibit of Hindu Gods and Goddesses including works depicting the Ramayana housed in a cave. The exhibit (ticket price RM5) was recently reopened after undergoing restoration works.

“Besides being a tourist attraction, the exhibit is also educational as many Hindus do not know the story of the Ramayana,” said the exhibition’s events manager M. Vikram.

Thaipusam 2009

February 8th, 2009
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Got up at 5.15am, got all the things packed and happily left home…until half way along the way, I realised I forgot to bring the camera!!! So, no pictures this Thaipusam…. 🙁

Anyway, reached Batu Caves at 7.10am, it took 40 minutes. Traffic was congested at the area in front of the temple. Parking cost RM10 while haircut cost RM15 this time.

The trip from main gate till to the top took some time since the management made some changes on the lanes, but no proper notices were found. The main gate was quite jammed with paal kudam and kavadi bearers stuck with visitors and tourists.

This time around, the 3 columns of stairs were divided as follows: left lane for visitors/tourists etc to go up; middle lane for kavadi, and right lane for everyone to come down from cave. So, it was quite easy for us to climb the stairs as compared to previous years. Unfortunately, getting down was a bit slow due to one lane only. Can’t help it I guess.

The situation in the cave was crowded around 8 till 9am as paal kudam carriers had to compete with visitors and tourists for access to the deity area. However, one major improvement this time is the notice boards in the came which dedicates paths for different categories – archanai, paal kudam, main deity, and kavadi. This should have been done from the main gate and with proper barricades as well.

We felt the crowd was not as much as two years ago. Have to wait for reports from others. I guess between 7am and 9am, there were about 20-30 thousand people on the grounds. My newspaper vendor was here at midnight to witness fireworks and said there were less crowd as well. I guess the long weekend holiday provided chance for usual crowd to visit other temples around the country. Reports from Kuala Selangor said crowd was like last year.

This time around, I did not see any politicians nor hear any speeches. We saw Pandithurai walking around. Announcements on the scholarships and money for funeral expensess by Selangor state government were made few times over the PA.

This time, there were kavadis using cheroot, whips, and kumkumams, which was criticised by the management over the PA system.

We left at 9.30am just before the sun started to heat things up 🙂

The management tried some new strategies, and this should be praised (better late than never!).Among the things:

– allocating lane for visitors/tourists

– notice boards in the caves

They have to try via trial-and-error method or even hire proper consultants to do traffic management study. I strongly believe that some way to manage the crowd and hygiene can be found if the temple management put their hearts to it. The boycott last year may have given them a well-deserved kick in the posterior.

As usual, my recommendations:

– ensure entertainment-based stall are relocated to outside temple grounds. I can hear Tamil songs in temple area and its quite distracting.

– get more volunteers. For million visitors (as claimed), there should be around 10000 – 15,000 policemen and volunteers (working in shifts).

– Centralise the mudi kanikai stalls. This time they were scattered in few places.

– provide more notices boards and guides.

– since more and more people are armed with cameras, there’s should be some “viewing galleries” or “shooting spots” so that these folks don’t impede the traffic.

1.3 million expected at Batu Caves for Thaipusam

February 3rd, 2009
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The Star reported that :

A record-breaking 1.3 million devotees and visitors are expected to pack Batu Caves for the Thaipusam celebration this Sunday.

The figure is an increase from the one million people that attended the celebration last year. The Batu Caves temple committee has been making preparations to cater to the expected massive crowd.

Recently, it spent RM640,000 to improve basic amenities like public toilets and water supply. There will also be more than 600 stalls selling food, drinks, trinkets, clothing and souvenirs.

Security is another aspect being stressed on. More than 1,000 policemen will be stationed at the temple grounds and its surrounding area on that day.

Also for the first time, there will be a 15-minute fireworks display on the eve of Thaipusam. The fireworks would be lighted at midnight, followed by a chariot procession.

I’m surprised that it mentioned 1 million people attended Thaipusam at Batu Caves last year. Practically everyone knows the community boycotted Batu Caves last year, resulting in huge drop of visitors. Just search my previous postings.

Anyway, looks like no calls for boycott this year from any quarters. Perhaps those concerned about the condition of SJKT Batu Caves may want to highlight their grievances to the public.   The  public may be very interested to know how much the temple have helped the school for the last decade at least.