IPOH, Jan 14 — Kavadi makers and bearers here have expressed their disappointment and dissatisfaction after the federal government announced the ban on the kavadi ceremony for this year’s Thaipusam celebration.

The kavadi makers and bearers said that they have spent thousands of ringgit for the event and have started making the kavadi about a month ago.

Perak Kavadi Bearers Alliance chairman Iruthiyam Sebastiar said that it is not fair to announce the kavadi ban just a few days before Thaipusam.

“Kavadi bearers have started their fasting 48 days before the Thaipusam as it is a ritual that needs to be fulfilled by the bearers.

“While the kavadi makers have started making the kavadi 48 days before Thaipusam,” he said in a press conference.

Perak Kavadi Bearers Alliance chairman Iruthiyam Sebastiar said that it is not fair to announce the kavadi ban just a few days before Thaipusam. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Perak Kavadi Bearers Alliance chairman Iruthiyam Sebastiar said that it is not fair to announce the kavadi ban just a few days before Thaipusam. — Picture by Farhan Najib

Iruthiyam, who is also the Perak myPPP party chairman, said the decision to ban the kavadi would have been accepted if it was made earlier in November or December.

“However, the decision was delayed until January 13. This is very last minute and really disappointing,” he said.

On Wednesday, Putrajaya announced that only the “paal koodam” procession of carrying milk pots, prayer activities and chariot processions will be allowed during the Thaipusam festival this time, but not the kavadi ceremony.

National Unity Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique said “paal koodam” was allowed from this Friday to January 19 with the number of devotees allowed to be set according to the respective temples.

Iruthiyam pointed out that a total of 50 kavadi makers and 100 bearers here are affected both financially and mentally due to the late announcement of the ban.

He also said that each kavadi bearers had spent at least RM20,000 to make the kavadi which requires materials likes LED lights, paints, peacock feathers, woods, and so on.

“Almost all the kavadi have been completed and the kavadi can’t be stored or reused next year as it requires bigger space to store and are largely made of polystyrenes,” he explained.

He also said Hindu devotees here only proceed with making the kavadi after Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan had previously given the assurance generally that the Thaipusam and kavadi ceremony will be allowed for this year.

Iruthiyam also said that they have submitted a letter to Halimah requesting to allow kavadi ceremony for the larger kavadi, which is requires a shorter distance to the temple with limited devotees.

“We urge the government to reconsider the standard operating procedure (SOP) and allow at least big kavadi to proceed from the river beside the Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniar Temple in Gunung Cheroh with only 10 devotees following the kavadi, including the kavadi bearers.

“The devotees who are involved in the kavadi ceremony are willing to take Covid-19 test and will adhere to all the SOPs,” he said.