1.7 million throng Hindu shrine in Malaysia

February 1st, 2010 - 12:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 1 (IANS) Over 1.7 million Hindu devotees Monday thronged Lord Subramaniam’s temple at the Batu Caves near the national capital to celebrate the annual Thaipusam festival.
Crowds of devotees and tourists swelled through the night even as the deity’s silver chariot left Batu Caves at 4 p.m. Sunday for the Sri Maha Mariamman temple here to mark the end of the festival.

About 10,000 devotees followed the chariot back on foot, New Straits Times said.

Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam works committee chief N. Sivakumar said the Thaipusam celebration last year lasted for a week, and this year the temple management was ready to maintain the carnival atmosphere beyond Monday if necessary.

Going by the enthusiasm of the festival crowd this year, it would not be a surprise if the number of visitors to the Batu Caves temple surpassed two million, he added.

Multi-ethnic Malaysia is home to about 1.9 million Indians who settled here during the British era. A bulk of them are Tamil Hindus, while there are settlers from other regions and practitioners of Christianity and Sikhism as well.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak with his wife and leading members of his cabinet were among the visitors this year. He underscored the need for accommodating the festivals and citizens of different faiths, although a majority of Malaysians practice Islam.

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