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Hindu devotees carry offerings on their heads at Batu Caves during Thaipusam January 18, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Hindu devotees carry offerings on their heads at Batu Caves during Thaipusam January 18, 2022. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — MIC deputy president Datuk Seri M. Saravanan today cautioned the government over its handling of Thaipusam standard operating procedures (SOPs), saying the Indian community has started to lose faith in Putrajaya.

The human resources minister pointed out that the dissatisfaction of the Indian community did not stem from this issue alone, but went all the way to Barisan Nasional’s (BN) defeat during the 14th general election (GE14) in 2018.

“I must put on record that by and large, Hindus in this country are very unhappy with (the government’s) decision.

“They ask me why thousands can go shopping at Pavilion but attendance at Batu Caves is limited.

“In the end, we are losing the trust of the community,” he was quoted as saying by news portal Free Malaysia Today.

Previously, National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique announced the SOP, which among other things, stipulated that only paal koodam (milk offering processions), prayer activities and chariot processions would be allowed but the kavadi ceremony was still not permitted during this year’s festival.

She said paal koodam was allowed from tomorrow to January 19 with the number of devotees set according to temple capacity, while prayer ceremonies would be held in sessions and the movement of chariot processions should follow the set SOPs.

Today, 18 prayer sessions for the presiding deity Lord Murugan from 5am to 11am were held at the Batu Caves temple complex.

Only 500 people were allowed in for each session, to avoid overcrowding, a miniscule number compared with pre-Covid days.

“Although the Indian community is not satisfied, you can see today for yourself, they are still following the set rules.

“This shows the maturity of the Indian community in this country. Even with one million (devotees), I am confident that with the police’s help, they will still follow the rules,” said Saravanan, adding he has received countless messages from the public expressing their dissatisfaction.

Batu Caves Sri Subramaniar temple committee chairman R. Nadarajah previously said more than 90,000 devotees had registered to attend prayers at the temple, and it would be impossible to cater to all of them under the current SOPs.

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