Facebook Group Ruining Thaipusam

The annual colourful and vibrant Hindu religious festival Thaipusam is around the corner. This festival is not only one of the major Hindu festivals in the country but it is also a major annual tourist attraction event in Selangor (Batu Caves Sri Subramaniam Temple), Penang (Waterfalls Murugan Temple) and Ipoh (Gunung Cheroh Murugan Temple) and lately Murugan temples in Sungai Petani Kedah and Johor Bharu are also getting popular among devotees and tourist alike.

As usual when the Thaipusam festival draws nearer the social media is abuzz with all kinds of news and issues that somewhat upset devotees and visitors who are planning to attend the event.

The recent warning of a Facebook group to women that they will be sprayed with paint if they are spotted “dressed inappropriately” at Thaipusam events is causing much anxiety and anger among the Hindu community. Many are of the view that the Facebook group is breaching the law and their actions if left unchecked can lead to unnecessary anxiety and may give rise to violence.

I too find it strange that a mere Facebook group which is not a registered organisation is allowed to flex its muscles and getting directly involved in the affairs of the Hindu community to a point of creating so much uneasiness and tension among the many hundreds of thousands of devotees and visitors.

The Malaysian Hindu Sangam (MHS) and the respective hindu temple committees where Thaipusam festivals have been celebrated are doing a good job over the years to educate and to create awareness among hindu devotees on the do’s and don’ts to uphold the sanctity of the festival.

The Hindu public has generally been very receptive to all these advisories and guidelines issued by these bona fide Hindu bodies. However, this Facebook group appears to be throwing a spanner in the efforts of the MHS and temple committees by making provocative announcements like spray painting women “inappropriately dressed “for the festival.

When we can tolerate hindu priests conducting the prayers in the temples half naked most of the time why make so much fuss of women in designer sarees or outfits! Even some of the idols of the deities in the temples are partially dressed.

To propose such an insulting and degrading treatment to women is unacceptable and it should not be tolerated by the community. It appears that this particular group may have other hidden motives or agenda.

I have witnessed many foreign female tourists at Thaipusam festivals in the past “inappropriately dressed”. Are these people too going to be subjected to the paint spray ritual?

If this particular Facebook group is genuinely concerned in upholding the sanctity of the festival they should have worked closely with MHS and the respective temple committees and others concerned. Issuing open warnings of this nature in social media only creates unwanted speculations and tarnishes the image of the festival.

The authorities should investigate what this group is up to as it has raised concerns of the safety and security of many hundreds of thousands of devotees and tourists who will be attending the coming Thaipusam festival in the country.

S. Param

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