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A photograph of devotees pouring milk into a drum, which will then channel the liquid to an automated machine at the Batu Caves temple. — Whatsapp pic
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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26, 2015:
For Hindus, paying penance to their deities by carrying milk pots is a common practice, especially during the annual Thaipusam festival.
This year, the Batu Caves Murugan temple management will be implementing a new system to ease congestion.
A spokesman said the temple would be using an automated system for the first four days of Thaipusam, which would see devotees emptying their milk pots into a drum.
The drum would then channel the liquid via hoses, to a pot attached to a machine inside the main temple, where the milk offering ritual is done.
Typically, the milk pots carried by devotees are passed to the temple’s priests, who will then shower the deities’ statues with milk while uttering mantras as a form of blessing.
“We just want to ease congestion during this festive period. We expect a huge crowd this time around,” said the spokesman.
This system, which has been in the testing stage the last two days, will only be used on the first four days of Thaipusam, which falls on Feb 3. It is not known how much the system costs.
Images and the video of the machine “in action” are currently making their rounds on Whatsapp.
Meanwhile, Hindraf has lambasted the temple management over the system’s implementation.
“Hindraf is totally mystified by the committee’s attitude in pursuing the system as it clearly desecrates the Hindu rites and practices.
“It appears that the committee has no regard for the feelings of thousands of devotees who have undertaken severe penance to participate in showering their Paal Kodam (milk pots) in the final ritual known as abishekam during the Thaipusam festival,” Hindraf chairman P. Waytha Moorthy said in a statement.
He added it was widely believed that the practice of showering milk on the deity was a process of cleansing oneself of one’s sins.
“Such practice is conducted worldwide in India, Fiji, Sri Lanka, USA, the United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore during the Thaipusam month.
“Even in India, millions of people who bring their milk pots have the satisfaction of their milk being showered individually by priests, who normally chant mantras, as opposed to the motorised method intended to be practised in Batu Caves.
Waytha said motorising a “personal and spiritual” ritual not only desecrated Hindu rites, but also insulted individual devotees who had painstakingly undertaken severe penance to fulfil their devotion to the deity.
He called on the temple management to review the use of the machine, failing which he urged devotees to forgo Batu Caves and pay their penance elsewhere.
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