With no Covid-19 restrictions, Ipoh expects half-million visitors for Thaipusam celebration this year
IPOH, Jan 27 — About 500,000 visitors from all walks of life are expected to throng the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple in Gunung Cheroh here for this year's Thaipusam celebration next month.
Ipoh Hindu Devasthana Paripalana Sabah president M. Vivekananda said a large crowd is expected to attend this year after the restrictions and bans for the past three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been lifted.
"We anticipate about half a million devotees and visitors this year across the three days celebration. We can say that Thaipusam is back,” he told Malay Mail when met at the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple here yesterday.
Ipoh Hindu Devasthana Paripalana Sabah president M. Vivekananda speaks to Malay Mail at the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple at Gunung Cheroh, Ipoh January 27, 2023. — Picture by Farhan Najib
He said that the momentum is gaining strength as devotees have already been visiting the temple to perform the prayers ahead of the festival.
To minimise congestion, Vivekananda said the temple has decided to start the chariot procession early this time.
"Usually, the chariot procession will take place on the eve of Thaipusam. However, this year the chariot procession will start two days earlier,” he said.
The chariot procession will start on February 3 at 6.30pm from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Buntong and is expected to reach the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple at around 1am the next day, which is on the eve of Thaipusam.
The chariot will then remain at the temple until Thaipusam before traveling back to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple on February 6 at 7pm.
Vivekananda said that there are no specific restrictions or standard operating procedures from the temple for this year's celebration but advised visitors to wear face masks as Covid-19 cases are still present in the country.
"Devotees are allowed to perform their archanai (prayers), paal koodam (milk offerings), hair offering vows and Angapradakshinam, a ritual which involves them performing rolling prostrations around the temple grounds,” he said.
"There is also no restrictions or ban on kavadi bearers, thannir panthal (water stations), or other stalls near the temple area. Everything is back to normal,” he added.
He also said that the temple will be providing lunch for 30,000 devotees during the Thaipusam celebration.
Devotees perform prayers at the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple at Gunung Cheroh in Ipoh January 27, 2023. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Vivekananda explained that the uniqueness that attracts devotees from around the world to visit the temple here is the Lord Muruga statue, which is known to be the tallest Muruga deity in South-east Asia.
"Apart from that the temple has a 19-foot tall archway (Raja Koburum), which has various statues of Hindu deities. The archway is solely sponsored and built by Jalan Bendahara metal traders,” he added.
He also said that the Thaipusam celebration in Ipoh is known for its beautiful and vibrant kavadis, which comes in various designs and colourful lights.
"The kavadi procession in Ipoh is a sight to be seen. We can’t experience this atmosphere in any other state. We are expecting about 1,000 kavadis this year,” he said.
Hindu devotees carry jugs of milk (paal kodum) as offerings at the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple at Gunung Cheroh in Ipoh January 27, 2023. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Vivekananda urged devotees who plan to follow the chariots and kavadi procession to refrain from lighting up fire crackers or consume alcohol as he said it will mar the image of the holy festival.
Thaipusam falls on February 5 this year, a Sunday.
The religious festival is also a public holiday in Perak, four other states (Penang, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Johor), and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.