This year saw a more devotees to the Thaipusam than the past years, I can safely put the number around 150,000 people for the 3 days. Nothing much changed in terms of the grandeur, the zest of the celebrations outside the temple, the clockwork system of carrying milk pots and kavadi that has been going on for years in Sungai Petani. Store and restaurant owners would be delighted by the turnout, I think this is the only time of the year, other than during the Vinayagar Chathurti festival that old town Sungai Petani comes alive.
I've been celebrating Thaipusam for 28 years now in SP, I have very good memories of this. I can still picture the situation, the temple, people and kavadi's back to when I was only a few years old. It's nostalgic, sometimes sad that it's not as pure and grand as then, but as time passes, people change, customs evolve. What makes any SP citizen proud is that people come back year after year, from wherever they are around the world to their hometown, SP to celebrate Thaipusam. That's how powerful the temple is and how close is the Indian community here in Sungai Petani. Given the chance, I want to go back 20 years ago and show everyone how it was :)
Along the years, the city has changed, the temple has been rebuild bigger and better, but sadly we have to point at some sore situations and hope that things will change. As I wrote in the previous post, some people are out there to seize the moment for all the wrong reasons. It's good that people want change, but it's wrong when the change comes at the expense of the community centers such as temples. Probably the people who started the nuisance did not think that there wont be a Thaipusam next year if the Police refuses a permit. And at the root of this is the temple committee who is arrogant enough to ignore what the people want. The rules has changed for the better during the past 10 years but that doesn't mean the devotees are mere visitors to a circus. The well being of the people comes foremost, compared to the power play of the ones who take charge of the temple. If the people want more convenience then do it. That's why we pay for the temple receipts, that's why we put money in the donation boxes. Where does the money go? Did God ask them the money? It's the people's temple, not a private institution, and when people are passionate about the temple, they have the voice and rights to demand change, demand convenience and assistance. All this is seriously lacking, and in the long run, will eventually end the celebrations that's been going on for decades. This is what we don't want happening in SP. The people have been tolerant for so long, and we are not new ones here. We have been here for decades, we have seen people come and go, power doesn't mean anything in the eyes of God or the masses. I hope people will remain tolerant at the antics that usually happens during Thaipusam, Karma will take care of the rest.
H+U has been reporting the celebrations from SP for 3 years now (and I have snaps from 5 years ago). Apart from the clippings in the newspaper, there are no updates at all in new media about the SP Thaipusam despite it being one of the biggest celebrations in this country. Spread the word, document it, and let people know that we have a great cultural center in SP and the Indians here are passionate about our temple's and culture. This publicity will change the attitudes of the trouble makers and also the overzealous temple committee in running the temple.
Last but not least, for decades the temple volunteers has been doing a great job in handling the devotees, everything runs smoothly, follows the set rules and lets us offer our penance in peace and at hearts content. These are young kids, teenagers, youths and the old timers of Sungai Petani, the strong Indian community who make sure that our religious celebration go on for years and years. They are, or shall I say we are responsible for our culture, for peace and tolerance and to educate the young generation of the importance of religion, culture and peace. Religion and culture brings us together, teaches us to respect others as our brothers and sisters. They shall have a special place in the courts of God, all of them, all of us. We shall safeguard the future of our temples, our people and ward of any evil opportunists from ruining our culture and community.
Below are some snaps from today. Will reply all the comments next week, thanks for visiting the site. I have lots of snaps from past years, and if you're from SP but in a faraway land, shoot me a mail and I shall send you some if you want to rekindle the magical memories. Till next year (hopefully with a bigger Thaipusam, better camera, and true 'Live' reporting) signing of, yours truly, and from years back till today, Vj, Indran, Kumar and others :-)