Sporting new look, iconic Batu Caves temple set to lure 1.6 million people for Thaipusam

A visitor takes a photograph of the colourful staircase at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur August 27, 2018. — Pix by Malaymail/ Hari Anggara.
A visitor takes a photograph of the colourful staircase at Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur August 27, 2018. — Pix by Malaymail/ Hari Anggara.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — The iconic Sri Subramaniar Temple Batu Caves now sporting a new, vibrant look is expected to attract more than 1.6 million Hindu devotees and tourists in conjunction with the 233rd year Thaipusam celebration on Monday.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam Batu Caves temple trustee, Datuk Dr AT Kumararajah said this year’s crowd of devotees and visitors will be greeted with the beauty of bright rainbow colours that adorn the 272 steps leading to the limestone cave.

“As soon as the painting of the staircases with various colours was completed on Aug 31, visitors to Batu Caves doubled daily. The painting of the stairs turned out to be a right decision and received positive feedback from the public.

“In fact, the new face of Batu Caves has become a factor that draws many people who are excited to capture the unique scenery in photographs, in particular during Thaipusam,” he said as a guest on the Ruang Bicara programme recording on Bernama News Channel here last night.

Prior to this, he added, the staircases were painted with only red and white colours.

Kumararajah said the temple management decided to repaint all the stairs using seven colours, namely red, green, blue, yellow, orange, white and indigo to cheer up the atmosphere and a little bit different than before.

“There was no specific planning or budget for the painting of the 272 steps. The management used the leftover paints from previous (painting jobs) to avoid wastage and the painting work was completed by volunteers within two days,” he added.

Kumararajah who is also the safety and medical coordinator for the 2019 Thaipusam celebration said Thaipusam in Malaysia is unique because the religious ceremony was celebrated on a grand scale that it became one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions.

“Compared to other places especially in India, Thaipusam is celebrated only as a religious ceremony. However, in Batu Caves, this religious site is also a tourist attraction glorified as a result of the unique religious celebration called Thaipusam.

“Also, Batu Caves’ infrastructure cannot be found anywhere in the world. A vast area of 14 acres of land with four rows of colourful staircases leading to the cave temple and there is a 42.7 metres high golden Lord Murugan statue which is also the highest in the world,” he said.

On preparations to ensure that this year’s Thaipusam celebration is lively, peaceful and harmonious, Kumararajah said intensive planning, especially on safety aspects and logistics has been planned over the last three months.

As this year’s Thaipusam falls on a weekend with various ceremonies beginning on Friday up to Monday, more than 1,500 volunteers from 14 government agencies will be tasked to assist the celebration including medical and emergency assistance.

“The four-day event is expected to be very crowded and volunteers will be placed in various locations, including inside the cave and on the bank of Sungai Batu, which is also the location for the kavadi procession and prayer ceremonies,” he said.

He also advised the public to make use of public transport as well as to ensure the safety and health especially of children and senior citizens during the festival.

Thaipusam is observed by Hindus on the full moon day during the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ in the Tamil calendar which falls either in January or February each year.

In conjunction with the festival, devotees will fulfil their vows to carry ‘paal kudam’ (milk pot) that is considered the most sacred and beautifully decorated ‘kavadis’ which they carry and climb up the 272 steps to the cave temple in Batu Caves. — Bernama