MMA advises against large-scale Thaipusam celebration next year

by BERNAMA / pic by ARIF KARTONO

THE Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has advised against holding the annual Thaipusam festival on a large scale next year in view of the presence of the Covid-19 virus in the community.

MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said it will be impossible to observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs) with huge crowd of devotees and members of the public who will throng the temples for the occasion.

Next year, Thaipusam falls on Jan 28, but devotees will make the preparations to fulfil their vows as early as three months before that date.

“Surely, over a million people will attend the Thaipusam celebration (at the Batu Caves temple) and crowd control could become impossible and this can endanger the health and safety of the people, especially the devotees,” he told Bernama.

He said it will be difficult to observe the SOPs such as taking body temperature, recording attendance and ensuring physical distancing because of the large number of people.

Dr Subramaniam urged the temple management committees and the government to make an announcement early before the devotees begin their preparations to fulfil their vows, such as making the kavadi and so on; some three months ahead of the festival.

The Thaipusam festival in Malaysia is celebrated on a grand scale in at least four places, namely the Sri Subramaniyar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves, Selangor; Sri Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in Georgetown, Penang; Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Ipoh, Perak; and Sri Subramaniya Swamy Temple in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk RS Mohan Shan said the Thaipusam celebration next year will depend on the Covid-19 situation and the decision of the government.

He advised Hindu devotees to respect the decision of the government if the festival is not allowed to be celebrated on a large scale.

“It involves the question of health and lives. As such, we will have to come to a rational decision,” he said.

Mohan Shan said devotees can observe prayers in their respective homes and fulfil their vows in the coming years.

Malaysia registered a recent spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, with three-digit increases that have taken the total number of cases to 14,368 as of noon yesterday.