Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Happy Thaipusam!

Happy Thaipusam to all my Hindu friends and readers!


anak Malaysia said...

Thank you, Tok Mommy for remembering.

A true Malaysian you are.

Anonymous said...

Malaysian Indians boycott Hindu festival

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Indians stayed away in droves from a popular Hindu festival Wednesday, in a boycott linked to allegations of discrimination by the nation's majority Muslim Malays.

The colourful Thaipusam festival, during which devotees pierce their bodies with hooks and skewers, usually attracts more than a million people to Kuala Lumpur's Batu Caves temple, set in a spectacular limestone cavern.

But this year activists called on Hindus to celebrate elsewhere, accusing temple managers of assisting police who cracked down hard on a demonstration there last November, using tear gas and water cannons.

The crowds were thin Wednesday, numbering only in their tens of thousands, thanks to the boycott call and the prospect of more trouble.

A series of SMS text messages had called on ethnic Indians who did turn up to use their sandals to pelt political leaders including Samy Vellu, the leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress which is a member of the ruling coalition.

The veteran politician, who has sided with the government and been accused of neglecting the interests of his constituents, insisted there were at least half a million people at the complex and a million the day before.

"I have come to Thaipusam since I was 11 years old. I know the crowd. It is the same as before," he told reporters at Batu Caves.

"I don't think religious people who went to pray to Lord Murugan will listen to all the naughty fellows," he said of the SMS campaign.

"Who can threaten us? Anyone who threatens us we can find out where he is. It takes only five hours to find out where he is. They can't run away from us."

Stallholders and devotees lamented the small turnout and said ethnic Indians should work together to promote their cause.

"The crowd is normally double or triple this size. Now it's so small, so there is not so much of a great mood this time," said N. Kumaran, 41, a civil servant who has taken part in the festival for the past 14 years.

Sweet seller Joga Singh said that with the crowds so thin he and other vendors were not making any money this year.

"I think many people are afraid to come because of the SMS to boycott. Our business is suffering because of it," he told AFP.

At least 3,000 ethnic Indians gathered in the temple grounds to protest in November, and more than 8,000 people massed elsewhere the following day in unprecedented scenes that shocked the government.

In December it jailed five ethnic Indian activists under draconian internal security legislation that allows for detention without trial.

Malays, who make up 60 per cent of the country's 27 million population, control the government while ethnic Chinese, who make up 26 per cent of the population, dominate business.

Ethnic Indians, who make up 8.0 per cent of the population, complain they run a distant third in terms of wealth, opportunities and education. - AFP/ac