Thaipusam in Penang – Beyond races

On Friday afternoon, I was at the Koleksi Vipasana panthal on Jalan Utama (Western Road), a panthal put up mainly by my friends who are mostly of Chinese decent. I went there to lend support to their efforts and also to partake in the festivities of fellow Malaysians and also to enjoy myself amongst friends and to take in the sights.

By romerz

Sometime before the chariot of Lord Muruga passed by the panthal I was at, I sat down beside an elderly Indian lady (70+) from Kulim to see if she was okay as she was sitting alone after I saw my wife bring her a paper cup of water. She thanked me for my concern and added that she has always made it a point to come to Penang for the Thaipusam festivities despite her daughter asking the lady to join her in KL.

The lady (sorry I did not get her name) said that she liked the one in Penang best as it was very multi-racial with tourists and a large representation from the non-Indian community. She lamented that though there were Malays present as well, their numbers could have been larger.

I explained to her that for the Malays, their religion prohibits them from participating in activities of a religious nature outside of Islam. She then asked me if I was Hindu to which I replied no. I told her that I’m not religious but I was born to Buddhists/Taoists parents.

She then pointed out to me that it did not stop me from being there did it? It did not stop my friends from putting up the panthal even though they were not Hindus? She said that Malay Malaysians could have just joined in to support their fellow Hindu Malaysian brothers/sisters without partaking in any religious parts that Islam prohibits.

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