January 26, 2024
KUALA LUMPUR – The constant sound of drums reached the sky as almost two million people flooded the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple at Batu Caves to celebrate Thaipusam this year.
According to temple trustee and information team coordinator Datuk N. Suresh Kumar, about 1.75 million people had visited the iconic Hindu landmark from Wednesday till yesterday noon.
“Many more are expected to make the journey here over the next couple of days,” he said.
In an inspiring show of devotion, a constant flow of hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus carried paal kudam (milk offerings) as they climbed Batu Caves’ 272 steps to pay homage to the Hindu god Lord Murugan.
Among them was the occasional group of kavadi bearers carrying various designs of the massive brightly coloured ornate frames who danced brilliantly to the beat of bands of traditional drummers as they accompanied devotees to fulfil their vows.
The brilliant spectacle caught the eyes of many fellow Malaysians who were left awestruck by the display of devotion which continued for hours.
One such person was 48-year-old housewife Min Kua who was amazed as she filmed kavadi bearers dancing at her first-ever Thaipusam celebration.
Bringing along her 12-year-old daughter, she hoped to teach her the beauty of Malaysia’s multiculturalism before moving to Germany with her German husband later this year.
“I love the diversity shown here and I believe it’s important for all of us as Malaysians to embrace the traditions and celebrations of other cultures whenever possible.
“I hope to ingrain my daughter with the Malaysian spirit of multiculturalism before we move to Germany as she would otherwise never be able to experience such things there,” she said.
Cultural arts enthusiast Aaron Lim, 56, felt his love for Malaysia’s multiculturalism reignited after he too got his first-hand view of kavadi bearers in action.
“It’s amazing to see their dedication to their god after training themselves to carry such heavy frames on their back alone.
“Being able to see this just a short drive away from my house really reminds me that Malaysia is truly a cultural melting pot where all of us have mutual understanding and respect for each other.”
Some even went there in the wee hours of the morning to avoid the crowds.
English teacher Yashini Mohan, 27, came from Nilai, Negri Sembilan, with her mother, sisters, aunt and cousins at 2am with milk pots.
The pilgrimage was completed by 4am, with two elderly members of the group, Yashini’s mother, Mageswary, 53, and aunt Saraswathy, 59.
“We made the trip up together as a family and it was a tough climb as my sister’s legs are not very strong,” said Mageswary.
“For over 20 years, we have been faithfully coming to Batu Caves to pray for good health, education and other special requests.
“This is one of the most special festivals for us and we must come every year,” said Yashini.
A 28-year-old devotee, who only wished to be known as Hemend, said he has been coming to Batu Caves every year since he was born.
Like most devotees, he and his family were barefooted so that they would not kill any small life as they walked.
“In preparation for Thaipusam, we ate vegetarian meals for 30 days,” said Hemend.
Another devotee, Jeeva, came with his wife, Darshini, two-year-old son, 60-year-old mother, and his brother and sister-in-law.
They came from Seremban, then took a midnight train ride to Batu Caves.
Together, they climbed up the steps with milk pots and it took them more than four hours to reach the top.
Jeeva carried his two-year-old son on his shoulders all the way up.
“We prayed for good health and wealth for my family, but also especially for my young son’s health,” Darshini added.