Singapore

No kavadi procession, but next month’s Thaipusam will proceed

Hindu devotees who wish to participate in the Thaipusam festival next month will have to abide by a host of stringent measures, including pre-booking time slots to enter the temple and using only pre-prepared offerings.

Unlike previous years, there will be no foot procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road during the festival on Jan 28, and activities will be conducted only in and around the latter temple, it was announced yesterday.

The two temples and the Hindu Endowments Board said in a joint statement that these restrictions are necessary in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the decision to continue holding the festival was taken because of its historical significance.

During the festival, devotees typically fulfil their vows and carry a paal kudam or milk pot, or a kavadi, a wooden or metal structure with milk offerings, into the Tank Road temple.

To prevent any potential outbreaks of Covid-19, organisers have banned all forms of the kavadi for the upcoming festival.

It is "impossible to maintain safe distancing" as a team is required to assemble and mount the kavadi on the carrier, said the organisers.

In addition, devotees who wish to carry a paal kudam into the temple can use only pots pre-prepared by the temple.

But the number of pots available will be capped, and each devotee bearing a paal kudam can be accompanied by only one person.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

The Sri Thendayuthapani Temple will also deny entry to devotees who have not pre-booked time slots, and groups carrying musical instruments or any form of amplification device.

Mr A. Sunderason, 32, said he would still head down to the temple on Thaipusam to pray and give offerings, as he believes the measures would help keep devotees safe.

Mr Navind Kumar, 30, said he would prefer to celebrate the festival at home, given that the atmosphere at the temple would be vastly different.

"Maybe the Government can consider allowing bigger groups to gather so that more of us can celebrate the festival together," said Mr Navind, who owns a cleaning firm.

Devotees can make their online bookings on the Sri Thendayuthapani website from Jan 3 next year. More details will be provided closer to the event.

COMMUNITY ISSUES