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Big turnout of devotees during Thaipusam

india Updated: Jan 24, 2008 14:42 IST

The Sri Bala Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Port Klang, Malaysia, saw the largest-ever gathering in its 160-year history as more than 100,000 Tamil devotees converged there to observe the Thaipusam festival on Wednesday.

The two million-plus Tamils in Malaysia enthusiastically celebrated the festival, which was declared a public holiday in many parts of the country. The festival marks the wedding of Hindu deity Murugan to gypsy girl Valli.

Spread over two days, more than 20,000 devotees carrying paal kudam (milk pot) and kavadi visited the temple.

According to temple chairman RS Maniam, usually some 1,000 paal kudam and kavadi bearers used to visit the temple in Jalan Limbongan, making their 2-km journey from the Harikrishna Alayar Temple in Jalan Tengku Badar.

"This has never happened before, but we are happy to see such a large congregation and we are discussing ways to make it more festive if the trend continues next year," Maniam was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

Most Malaysian newspapers covered the festival on their front pages with reports from across the country, including interesting sidelights like pictures of Chinese girls participating in the Hindu festival.

The Murugan temple at Batu Tiga, Selangor also saw an unexpectedly large crowd on Wednesday. According to temple committee member Indra Veerapan, the crowd was double than that of the previous year.

"Last year we had about 1,500 people while this year more than 5,000 showed up at the temple," she said.

At Ipoh, two brothers B Vetheswaran and B Vethenthiran walked 10 kms on crutches in gratitude for being miraculously unhurt after being hit by cars in two separate incidents two years ago, The Star reported.

Vetheswaran, nine, and Vethenthiran, eight, decided to take part in the Thaipusam procession to thank Lord Subramaniam.

Ethnic Indians, mostly Tamil Hindus who came to Malaysia during the British era, form eight per cent of the country's 27 million population.