Minister: No chariot processions for Thaipusam, Christmas SOPs to be discussed Dec 14

Police escort a chariot bearing the statue of Lord Muruga to the Sri Subramaniam Swamy Temple in Batu Caves January 27, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Police escort a chariot bearing the statue of Lord Muruga to the Sri Subramaniam Swamy Temple in Batu Caves January 27, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Chariot processions remain prohibited due to Covid-19 for next year’s Thaipusam, National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique said in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Halimah added that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for this year’s Christmas celebration would be deliberated on December 14.

Halimah was replying to an additional question raised by Tebrau MP Steven Choong who had asked about the possibility of holding mass processions, such as the Chingay celebration, which he said would benefit tourism activities.

"Honourable member, in the list of Thaipusam celebration activities, there is also procession, the silver chariot procession. So, in the application for the Thaipusam celebration, the processions are not allowed,” she said.

Next year, Thaipusam will fall on January 18.

Salimah said the proposed SOPs for Christmas have already been drafted and will be shared with leaders of the Christian community soon.

“After the engagement session with the necessary religious leaders, we will bring it up on December 14," Halimah said.

In a reply to the initial question by Batu Gajah MP, V. Sivakumar, Halimah explained that in the course of preparing the SOPs for Thaipusam, an engagement session was held on December 2 to gauge the views and obtain detailed information regarding religious activities and customs for Thaipusam.

She said that the session was attended by 10 Hindu religious leaders from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor, Kedah and Perak, where Thaipusam celebrations are held on a large scale.

Halimah said that representatives from the National Security Council (NSC) were also present, alongside those from the Ministry of Health (MOH), adding that she would be issuing the SOPs and a press statement once these were confirmed.

Sivakumar had asked Halimah to state the SOPs drafted for the Thaipusam celebration so that temples and devotees could have time to make preparations for the annual festival.

In his additional question later, he also asked if temple management committees and hawkers would be allowed to operate stalls to generate some income to make up for revenue lost during the pandemic.

Halimah replied that these were permissible so long as the relevant local authorities gave their approval.

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