THAIPUSAM brings many Hindu temples to life across Malaysia, and is a great time to be immersed in Malaysia’s rich Indian heritage. However, this time around, Thaipusam will be slightly different than how it was before pandemic due to the implementation of SOPs.
Only a certain number of people are allowed and activities during the celebrations are limited. While the celebrations may be different, but it’s always good to look back on how you enjoyed the festival before, as it brings back good memories and nurtures the festive spirit in us.
Here, we look at five temples across our country that hosted Thaipusam parades every year.
Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur
Address: Gombak, 68100 Batu Caves, Selangor
The most impressive Thaipusam procession takes place at none other than the impressive Batu Caves. Celebrations at Batu Caves are an amazing experience not only for the locals but also tourists from around the world. Every year, over 10,000 people visit Batu Caves to witness the celebration of our pride, Lord Murugan.
Dedicated to the great god, the temple is packed with devotees and kavadi bearers making their way up to the cave shrine. On the night before Thaipusam, Hindus gather at Sri Mahamariaman Temple. From there they depart in the evening for an approximately eight-hour walk towards Batu Caves and arrive the next morning. The long journey culminates in climbing 272 steps to the cave entrance.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur
Address: Jalan Tun H. S. Lee, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
The Sri Mahamariamman temple in Kuala Lumpur is one of the most popular temples among devotees and visitors alike. There is a giant sliver chariot, a major feature during the Hindu festival of Thaipusam. The chariot is brought out from the temple when Thaipusam approaches.
You may pay a visit to the temple on that holy day to see for yourself how the chariot is used to carry the statues of Lord Murugan and his consorts up to Batu Caves in the wee hours of the morning. These chariots are traditionally carried every year from the Sri Mahamariamman temple to Batu Caves. Thousands of devotees worship here during Thaipusam, but many can be seen here at other times. After all, the temple itself is a magnificent piece of architecture!
Kallumaalai Temple, Ipoh
Address: 140, Jalan Raja Musa Aziz, 30300 Ipoh, Perak.
Built in 1889, Kallumaalai Temple is the tallest tower in the country at 70 feet. A quiet and serene temple complex on a hilltop during normal days, it transforms into a lively spectacle during celebration season. Kallumalai Arulmigu Subramaniyar Temple is the first temple that comes to mind when you think of Ipoh’s religious sites! It was once an in-cave temple, and has its own building on the banks of the Kinta River.
Even during normal days, the temple is famous for its peaceful atmosphere. Tourists and locals visit the temple for sightseeing and for prayer as well. Although it’s geographically situated on the outskirts, this temple has been transformed into a lively place of worship. Vehicles and people fill the entire place for the procession during Thaipusam, making it the third largest Thaipusam temple in Malaysia.
Muniswarar Temple, Johor
Address: 1, Jalan Mempelam, Kawasan Perusahaan Tampoi, 81200 Johor Bahru, Johor
Every year, Johor’s oldest temple attracts many visitors during the grand festival of Thaipusam. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Muniswarar. The fully gold-plated inner shrine is worth a visit during Thaipusam.
This is because it is the first in the country to have such beautiful dazzling installation. This is also one of the reasons why it is called the Batu Caves of Johor!
Kavadis are carried by devotees for 4km from the temple to Sri Subramaniar Temple at Jalan Pengkalan Rinting Road and back to Sri Muniswarar temple. Thousands of devotees fill the temple to witness the prayers of Lord Murugan during Thaipusam.
Waterfall Temple, Penang
Address: 17, Jalan Kebun Bunga, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Penang.
The Penang Waterfall Temple or Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in the state. The hilltop temple is also the most vibrant place to watch the bringing of Vel on the island. The Penang Thaipusam procession begins at dawn at Sri Mahamariamman Temple. Along the way, devotees and visitors will pass by Penang’s famous Hindu temples, such as the Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple in Lorong Kulit and the Shree Muniswarar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga.
Those wishing to witness the piercing ritual can do so here. After reaching the foot of the mountain, devotees must climb more than 500 steps to reach the Arulmigu Sri Balathandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple, which is 272 steps higher than the famous Batu Caves!
Besides the temples mentioned above, any temple dedicated to Lord Murugan will also carry out special prayers on this day. Celebrating Thaipusam might be a little more difficult this year but that shouldn’t stop devotees from remembering Lord Murugan. Having prayers at home is still considered a blessing.
To all Malaysians who are celebrating, have a great one, and please wear your masks and follow SOPs if you are planning to visit any of these temples!