(File pix) Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said this is the first time in recent history where a lunar eclipse would take place on the same day as Thaipusam. (pix by ZULFADHLI ZULKIFLI)

KUALA LUMPUR: A massive crowd of more than 1.5 million people are expected to gather at the Batu Caves Hindu temple for the Thaipusam festival this year.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said this year's celebration is expected to draw a larger crowd as it coincides with the lunar eclipse and Federal Territories Day.

Nadarajah said this is the first time in recent history where a lunar eclipse would take place on the same day as Thaipusam.

He also said a special prayer, Parihara Pooja, would be held to commemorate this rare phenomenon.

“In this regard, we expect to see a large number of devotees fulfilling their vows before and after the eclipse.”

Nadarajah said this year’s celebration would be held in grand fashion, adding that the annual procession would feature a golden chariot for the god of prosperity and fortune, Lord Ganesha, as well as a silver chariot for the god of war, Lord Murugan.

“Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrating the victory of Lord Murugan over the Surapadman devil. However, this year, we decided to include Lord Ganesha in the procession to improve the devotees’ prosperity.

“The chariot procession will leave the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple (at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee) on Jan 29 at 10pm, and is expected to reach the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Batu Caves at 2pm the next day (Jan 30).

“The Thaipusam celebration will continue with a flag raising ceremony at 5.30pm the same day.”

Nadarajah added that the chariot procession would depart from the Batu Caves Temple on Feb 1 at 4pm and is expected to reach the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple around midnight.

He advised devotees, as well as those who would like to witness the religious festival, to dress appropriately and to ensure the cleanliness of the temples and riverside.

“Alcohol, non-vegetarian food and non-religious music will not be allowed in the vicinity of the temples.

“We also advise the people to take public transport such as the KTM Komuter and buses, which will be made available 24 hours on Jan 31.”

He said police and other relevant government departments would assist in providing traffic control, safety, emergency assistance, water and electricity.

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