Covid-19: Devotees to celebrate Thaipusam with simple prayers, family members, and home-cooked meals

Sashitaran (in brown kurta) with his family members during one of the earlier Thaipusam celebrations. — Picture courtesy of Sashitharan Munusamy
Sashitaran (in brown kurta) with his family members during one of the earlier Thaipusam celebrations. — Picture courtesy of Sashitharan Munusamy

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PETALING JAYA, Jan 27 — Thaipusam in Malaysia is a vibrant celebration for the Hindu community as they normally throng the Batu Caves temple to pay their respects to a gold-painted Lord Murugan holding a spear.

Many devotees carry the kavadi or paal kudam (milk pot) to the Hindu deity while kavadi bearers would get their bodies pierced and walk up Batu Caves’ 272 steps to get their vows fulfilled.

But for this year, with the movement control order (MCO) and with many states curbing the Thaipusam celebrations, most devotees are celebrating the occasion at home with their family members.

For Amuthavalli Sandaran, 60, the one vivid memory that she has of Thaipusam is its vibrant ambience with many devotees filled with enthusiasm to offer their gifts in the Sri Subramaniar Swamy temple in Batu Caves.

Amuthavalli who had been heading to Batu Caves for the past 26 years has come to terms with the fact that Thaipusam this year is a simple one with prayers conducted at home.

Thaipusam this year falls on January 28.

The 60-year-old who hails from Negri Sembilan said that for this year, some of the prayers she would be reciting at home is the paal abhishekam.

“I will also be offering sweet snacks such as the ponggal rice, chickpeas, and fruits at home and will be reciting a mantra known as the Om Saravana Bhavaya Namaha to Lord Murugan.

“A simple vegetarian lunch will be prepared and at night, my  husband and I would also light up the agal vilakku (oil lamps).”

Asked as to how she will be fulfilling her vows this year, Amutha said that God is not located at just one place at a certain time and she can fulfil her vows anytime.

“I’ve learnt to make my home a temple and to feel God’s presence in the comfort of my own home.

“And the strange thing is that I’ve felt calmer as compared to the previous years as this celebration will be quieter than the rest,” she said.

For Sashitharan Munusamy, he has been visiting the Murugan temple in Seremban or known as the Sri Balathandayuthapani Temple for the past six years.

“I used to visit the temple in Batu Caves but once I got married, it became a bit difficult so I would head to the nearby temples in Seremban where I stay.

Sashitharan said that today, the eve of Thaipusam, his family and him are busy cleaning the altar and putting fresh flowers for the deities.

Sashitaran and his family have already decorated the house with kolam and flowers offered to the deities. — Picture courtesy of Sashitharan Munusamy
Sashitaran and his family have already decorated the house with kolam and flowers offered to the deities. — Picture courtesy of Sashitharan Munusamy

“Tomorrow we are allowed to start praying after 5.45am and we will be serving sweet delicacies such as payasam, ponggal rice to Lord Murugan so that devotees will receive sweet outcomes in return.

“My family members and I will also be doing a simple prayer tomorrow including the Panja mirtham using the juice of five fruits to wash the spear ornament that is symbolic to Lord Murugan.

“While the spear or vel is usually attached to Lord Murugan, I bought the spear separately as an ornament as Thaipusam is all about respecting the spear that was gifted to Lord Murugan to vanquish the evil spirit known as the asuras.”

Sashitaran said that he does not have any vows to fulfil this year as he has been blessed with many good returns throughout the years.

“While many people would flock the Batu Caves temple on Thaipusam to fulfil their vows, for me, Lord Murugan will always be there welcoming anyone on any other day as well.

“Plus, I also prefer visiting the temple when there are lesser people,” he said.

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