The government has clarified that its green light for Lord Murugan’s chariot to be brought to the Batu Caves temple on Thaipusam does not amount to a procession.
This follows Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa’s announcement that the National Security Council had given approval for the deity to be brought from the Maha Mariamman temple in the city centre to the temple in Batu Caves, where the annual Thaipusam gathering normally attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees and tourists.
The green light was subject to several conditions, including one limiting the number of people involved to 10, with no accompanying music in a bid to deter crowds.
“No procession is allowed. It is only for bringing the deity to and from Batu Caves. During the journey, no celebration will be allowed,” Annuar said, correcting several news report headlines which used the word “procession”.
The move however drew a mixed response from the public.
“It’s good news to hear, but look at rise in cases too. Celebrations can be done at home with family. Just pray so this pandemic will be over soon.
“Thaipusam is not complete without kavadis and the beating of drums. Let’s make it grand in 2022, not 2021 [quotes edited],” Erajaganthasharma Raju said in a tweet.
Others said it would be difficult to prevent people from following the chariot as it moves to the temple.
“I don’t think this is a good idea to allow the chariot procession at this time. We know this will definitely bring the crowds to go see the chariot,” said Anandharaj.