KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa’s aide today clarified the minister’s initial statement that the annual Thaipusam chariot procession will be allowed to proceed with only temple committee members and not members of the public.  

Speaking to Malay Mail, Annuar’s special officer Subash Chandrabose Arumugam Pillai said the initial statement stated that only 10 devotees would be allowed during the chariot procession and only applies to the temple committee members manning the programme.

“What he was saying is that the ‘perarakan’, which means procession, when we say we are doing a procession, what comes to mind? Music, crowd and festivities, and devotees would be carrying out prayers along the road.

“That cannot be done now.”

“When he said only 10 devotees are allowed, this strictly applied to only members from the temple manning the procession,” Subash said when contacted.

He explained that during Thaipusam celebrations before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it was customary to have the chariot procession leave at 7pm, which would later reach the Batu Caves Temple at 1am.

“So now, this has changed. It will start at 3am and reach Batu Caves at 6am,” Subash said, refuting allegations that the chariot procession has been allowed.

“Many misread what the minister said. He was in no way encouraging anyone to break SOPs, or opening avenues for that to happen,” he added.

In a tweet, Annuar said the chariot carrying Lord Muruga will be allowed to travel from Maha Mariamman temple in Jalan Bandar to Batu Caves on January 27 and return on January 29 with several stipulations.

“MKN (National Security Council) has granted approval for Lord Muruga’s chariot to travel from Jalan Bandar to Batu Caves on January 27 and be returned on January 29 to Jalan Bandar.

“The conditions are the chariot cannot stop at any point, no more than 10 devotees are allowed, no music. As usual, DBKL will monitor for adherence,” Annuar tweeted yesterday.

This later created a social media storm, with many expressing anger on the possible creation of a new cluster, with some accusing the government of allowing crowds to gather when the Covid-19 numbers are still soaring.

The Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves is over two calendar days where Hindu devotees impale themselves and carry metal structures called ‘kavadis’ to pay homage and penance to Lord Muruga.

This year’s public celebrations had to be cancelled as Malaysia is under a nationwide movement control order while a state of Emergency also in effect to curb the spread of Covid-19.