GEORGE TOWN – Preparations for the Thaipusam celebrations in Penang on Jan 18 are almost complete with the temple management imposing strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthapani Devasthanam (Hilltop Temple) chairman Datuk R. Subramaniam said at present, preparations inside and outside the temple had reached 90 per cent and the golden chariot was also fully completed.
“However, we are still waiting for the final SOPs to be issued by the National Security Council (MKN) before making the final announcement. Overall, we are ready for any situation to ensure a safe Thaipusam celebration and that visitors comply with the SOPs.
“For the sake of their health, those who are ill are advised not to come to pray at the temple on Jan 17 and 18 because it will be crowded, they can come after that,” he told reporters here today.
Earlier, Subramaniam accompanied Penang police chief Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain to visit the temple to see the preparations for the coming Thaipusam celebrations.
Prior to this, the Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) had given the assurance that the Thaipusam celebrations in the state would be held in compliance with the set SOPs and that it was ready to adjust the SOPs as per the MKN’s instructions for the safety of all quarters.
Meanwhile, Mohd Shuhaily said the management of the temple had done thorough preparations such as providing QR codes and special passes to the residents living near the temple to enter and exit the area.
He said police would mobilise 1,300 members and officers for the Thaipusam-related duties, adding that it was still waiting for the MKN’s SOPs to finalise the numbers.
“The final SOPs regarding the Thaipusam celebrations will be announced by the MKN and it will take into account the current COVID-19 situation. I hope the people will be in touch with the temples to get the latest information on the SOPs,” he said.
According to the initial plan, the silver chariot procession ferrying the statue of Lord Murugan will begin its nine-kilometre journey at 6 am on Jan 17 from the Nagarathar Kovil Veedu Temple, Lebuh Penang and is expected to reach the vicinity of Nattukottai Chettiar temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga at 11am, involving seven location stops.
Meanwhile, the golden chariot procession will start on Jan 17 from Lebuh Queen to Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthapani Devasthanam temple at 8 am, subject to the decision of the MKN.