By SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / Pic by BERNAMA
The standard operating procedures (SOP) for the Thaipusam celebration was made in accordance to the temple management’s recommendations through engagement sessions in several states and health risk assessment as well as Covid-19 transmission prevention.
National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique said the proposals were brought to the Ministerial Quartet Meeting for consideration and approval based on the need to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
“However, some parties who were not present during the engagement session have issued a statement claiming that I did not keep my word and promised certain things for the SOP,” she said.
Recently, DAP’s P Ramasamy on Facebook slammed the Thaipusam SOPs, calling the National Unity Ministry ludicrous, and claimed that Halimah had earlier agreed to a chariot parade with 500 devotees instead as the 100 which she declared.
On Jan 12, Halimah announced that the SOP for the Thaipusam festival, among others, stipulated that only the ‘paal koodam’ ceremony or holding a pot containing milk, prayer activities, and cart rides, would be allowed this year.
The ‘paal koodam’ ceremony is allowed from today to Jan 19 with the number of attendance set according to the temple capacity, while the ‘kavadi’ ritual and temporary stalls are not allowed.
According to Halimah, 12 prayer sessions were scheduled from 5am to 5pm on Jan 16, 17 and 19, and 18 sessions scheduled from 5am to 11pm on Jan 18, as the number of people allowed at each session will be determined by the temples.
On the SOPs at the Batu Caves temple, Halimah said only 6,000 devotees are allowed every day and only 500 individuals could attend each prayer session.