GEORGE TOWN, Jan 7 — Only the “paal kudam” (milk pot kavadi) ceremony will be allowed at this year’s Thaipusam celebration in Penang, said state Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy.

Ramasamy, who is also the Penang Hindu Endowment Board chairman, said the decision was reached after a meeting was held with National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique yesterday.

“Based on the meeting, only the “paal kudam” ceremony will be permitted at the Thaipusam festival this time without other kavadi events, head-shaving vows in temple grounds and coconut-breaking ceremonies.

Refreshment stalls (thaneer panthal) will not be permitted too, he added.

“The chariot procession will be held but limited to 500 devotees who have been fully vaccinated (including booster dose vaccine). They will also be given a special card showing that they have registered (under the temple committee) besides scanning the QR code before starting the ceremony,” he told reporters at a press conference, here, today.

Ramasamy said from the meeting, only five location stops (where the chariot will stop) have been selected for now compared to the proposed 10 locations. However, this will depend on the decision of the ministry and the National Security Council (MKN) in considering the proposal.

The decision will be announced soon.

Meanwhile, Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthapani Devasthanam (Hilltop Temple) chairman, Datuk R. Subramaniam said anyone wishing to perform their vows for the “paal kudam” ceremony should try to do so earlier to avoid any congestion on the day of the festival.

This will help towards maintaining standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of Covid-19, he added.

“As Thaipusam falls on January 18, we request the ‘paal kudam’ ceremony to be performed earlier, beginning January 12.

“Besides that, the temple will also do half-hourly sanitisation work based on the SOP. Devotees are also urged to do a Covid-19 self-test to avoid an occurrence of a Thaipusam cluster,” he added. — Bernama