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Big turnout of devotees

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sri Bala Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Port Klang saw the largest-ever crowd in its 160-year history with thousands of people gathering to observe Thaipusam.

An estimated 100,000 people converged at the temple over the past two days. Twenty thousand devotees, including those carrying paal kudam (milk pot) and kavadi, were at the temple on Tuesday night.

Sea of devotees: The crowd at the Sri Bala Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Port Klang during Thaipusam on Wednesday.
A large crowd again turned up yesterday morning to offer prayers.

Temple chairman R.S. Maniam said the temple in Jalan Limbongan usually received just 1,000 paal kudam bearers making their 3km journey from the Harikrishna Alayar Temple in Jalan Tengku Badar.

“This has never happened before but we are happy to see such a large congregation and we are discussing ways to make it more festive if the trend continues next year,” he said when met at the temple yesterday.

At Batu Tiga, Selangor, the Murugan Temple also saw an unexpectedly larger crowd yesterday. According to temple committee member Indra Veerapan, the crowd was double that of the previous year.

“Last year we had about 1,500 people while this year, more than 5,000 showed up,” she said.

The large number of people at these temples did not cause a fall in the numbers at Batu Caves, according to MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

Speaking to the press at Batu Caves, he said the numbers there were the same as in previous years.

He said more than a million people turned up yesterday but they came at different times. About 950,000 turned up the night before.

Devotees who went to Batu Caves yearly said the crowd this year was smaller than in previous years. They said people were streaming freely through the gates of the Batu Caves temple when in the past, they virtually could not move because of the crowd. Traders also said there was less business this year.

Malaysian Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithylingam said he received word from members that the turnout was lower this year.

“Although I did not go, I received a lot of calls from members of the sangam and people who went to Batu Caves and they said the turnout was smaller,” he said.

In Penang, George Town OCPD Asst Comm Azam Abd Hamid said the Thaipusam crowd over the last two days were more or less the same as last year’s.

“More than 80,000 devotees are in Penang. The morning and afternoon crowd were about the same as those in previous years,” he said.

It was earlier reported that more devotees were expected to converge on the island from Tuesday because of the call to boycott the celebrations at Batu Caves.

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