Malaysian film director returns with Thaipusam clean-up initiative, has more volunteers to cover three temples

Registered volunteers will be given free T-shirts for the clean-up initiative. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/CleanThaipusam
Registered volunteers will be given free T-shirts for the clean-up initiative. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/CleanThaipusam

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PETALING JAYA, February 5 — Film director JK Wicky and his posse of volunteers are back with the initiative to keep Batu Caves clean during the upcoming Thaipusam

The “Clean Thaipusam 2020” is a project that aspires to reduce the rubbish thrown during Thaipusam, while inculcating the importance of having a clean environment among its devotees.

Wicky said the preparations this year leading up to Thaipusam was well-planned by a core team of 100 committee members.

They are also encouraging people to donate their hair so that it can be used to make wigs for cancer patients.

Since its inception a year ago, clean-up activities will also be held at the Kallumalai Murugan Temple, Ipoh and also in Balathandayuthapani Temple (commonly known as Thaneer Malai temple), Penang.

Wicky had also gathered several local artistes last year to make a public service announcement video to encourage those attending Thaipusam to keep Batu Caves clean.

As to what inspired him to start this initiative, he said he always noticed that rubbish would be thrown and strewn everywhere during the Thaipusam festivities in Batu Caves from the time when he was young.

“People still don’t have the awareness of cleanliness, and that was what drove me to create educational videos on Facebook, with the intention of attracting people as volunteers to clean the area throughout the three days,” he said.

Wicky revealed that this year, a lot of planning had been done to prepare the videos by making it informative through photos, facts about the type of waste and recyclables collected, and ways to reduce the rubbish.

“Last year, we only had 10 volunteers on the first day of Thaipusam, but after posting photos about the initiative on Facebook , we had an increase to 40 volunteers,” he said, adding that people began to know about their effort once pictures of the before-and-after event were posted online.

Volunteers throwing rubbish into the bags provided. — Picture courtesy of JK Wicky
Volunteers throwing rubbish into the bags provided. — Picture courtesy of JK Wicky

According to Wicky, the highlight for this year was to attract as many people as possible, especially the youth by using social media such as Facebook and Instagram.

Updates are constantly posted on the platforms.

“Being a film-maker myself, and one who deals with videos on a daily basis, I wanted to impart my knowledge such as the visuals and design into these videos so that they would appeal to the younger generation and they would gain something from these videos,” he said.

They will also be organising a “hair offering” booth where women with long hair and have fulfilled the requirements, are encouraged to donate their hair so that cancer patients can benefit from them.

The 'hair offering' initiative will also be held at the booths where devotees are encouraged to donate their hair. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/CleanThaipusam
The 'hair offering' initiative will also be held at the booths where devotees are encouraged to donate their hair. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/CleanThaipusam

“This is the first time we are organising this hair donation, and we want to see whether the response will be good enough to continue it next year,” he said.

So far, 750 people have signed up to be volunteers.

Digi, who is partnering with the project, will be providing booths for the volunteers and offering 500 over plants to its customers.

Other groups that have played a part in maintaining cleanliness during the celebration include volunteers from the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association.

In Penang, a movement known as “Sampah Masyarakat” — aimed to create awareness on waste and recycling have also helped collect recyclable waste during the Thaipusam event.

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