GEORGE TOWN, Jan 8 – The famous dual chariot procession, bearing the statue of Lord Murugan during Thaipusam in Penang, has been called off this year and devotees are advised to stay home on Jan 28, to prevent mass gatherings due to COVID-19.

Deputy Chief Minister II, Prof Dr P. Ramasamy said considering the alarming rate of COVID-19 cases in the state, with five districts declared as red zones, Penang’s famous week-long Thaipusam festivities would not take place this year.

“This is a serious situation and we need to be responsible to curb the pandemic from spreading further, therefore we must cooperate with the authorities as well as follow the health ministry and National Security Council’s guidelines.

“We are advising the Hindu community to pray at home on Jan 27-29. We do not want a Thaipusam COVID-19 cluster,” he told a press conference on the state’s decision to call off the festivities here today.

Ramasamy, who is also Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) chairman said, the three-day festive activities including the silver and gold chariot procession, devotees carrying milk pots or kavadis, the breaking of coconuts and shaving of hair, would be banned.

He said the two main temples, Nattukottai Chettiar and Hilltop Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani, would comply with the state government’s decision and would cease all festivities adding that police would be on standby to enforce the law.

Prayers on Thaipusam day at the respective temples would only be attended by priests and committee members who are bound by health ministry’s standard operating procedures (SOPs).


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