Malaysia: Hindu festival 'Thaipusam' held with strict virus measures

27 January 2021
2021-01-27 14:51

Malaysian authorities allowed a handful of Hindu devotees on Wednesday to publicly celebrate the annual Thaipusam festival amid strict curbs in the country set up to contain the Covid-19 virus. The festival normally sees believers carrying offerings to places of worship to the Hindu deity Lord Murugan, marking the day when his mother, the goddess Parvathi, gave him a powerful lance to fight demons. But a resurgent wave of the virus, that has infected more than 190,000 people and killed 700 so far, saw the government locking down the country in mid-January, closing many businesses and barring public events.

This year, authorities allowed a seven-meter-high chariot bearing Hindu deities to be carried in a muted procession under heavy police escort from a temple in Kuala Lumpur to the Batu Caves shrine just outside the capital. Prior to Thaipusam, devotees will typically hold daily prayer sessions, abstain from sex and stick to a strict vegetarian diet for weeks. Most of Malaysia’s roughly 32 million people are Muslim, but the country also has about two million ethnic Indians.

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