Malaysian Hindu festival gets Buddhist touch

Thursday, January 20, 2011

GEORGE TOWN - Two Malaysian Indian brothers celebrating the Thaipusam festival of the Tamil Hindus carried idols of Buddhist deity Kuan Yin after their ailing mother recovered.

G. Asokumar, 31, and his brother G. Sivakumar, 40, Wednesday carried the idol in a kavadi, a plywood platform, on their shoulders from a Buddhist temple to the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani temple of the Hindus located on a hilltop in this capital of Penang state.

“My mother and father are both Kuan Yin devotees. That is why we settled on her image for the kavadi,” The Star quoted Asokumar as saying.

The Kuan Yin idol was decorated with dragon heads and lilies.

“Last year, I carried a milk pot but this year I am giving thanks to Lord Muruga by carrying a kavadi as He (Lord Muruga) has healed my mother of her illness,” he added.

“She used to suffer from bad seizures so we made a vow to carry the kavadi if she was healed.”

The brothers spent about RM4,000 ($1,309) on the two-metre tall kavadi, made from polyfoam and plywood, to carry two idols of the Buddhist deity.

Asokumar said a Buddhist temple was consulted on the design and colours.

“We took four months to design and make the kavadi as everything was done ourselves.”

On Tuesday night, thousands of Tamil Hindus gathered near Kuala Lumpur on a 12-hour journey to the ancient Batu Caves bearing the idol of Lord Subramaniam from the Sri Maha Mariamman temple.

The streets took on a carnival atmosphere Tuesday night as devotees smashed coconuts and made offerings as priests performed prayers to Lord Subramaniam.

Malaysia is home to 2.1 million ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamil Hindus, who celebrate Pongal, followed by Thaipusam festival with fervour.

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