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Giant statue of Hindu god in Malaysia

The world's tallest statue of Lord Murugan was unveiled by Hindus outside of Kuala Lumpur.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 17:17 IST

Malaysia's ethnic Hindus have unveiled what is being described as the world's tallest statue of the deity Lord Murugan outside a limestone cave shrine near the country's largest city.

An estimated 100,000 ethnic Indian Hindus watched as a helicopter showered flowers over the gold-painted, 42.7-meter (141 feet) statue late Sunday at the foot of a hill outcrop that houses Malaysia's famous Batu Caves, just outside of Kuala Lumpur.

Works Minister Samy Vellu, Malaysia's top Indian politician, conducted the official unveiling of the statue at the base of a 272-step stairway leading to the Sri Subamaniar Swamy Temple, located inside one of the hill's sprawling caverns.

Indian Hindus, who make up about 7 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people, regard Lord Murugan as a manifestation of valor, beauty, youthfulness, vitality, masculinity and happiness.

"This is the tallest statue of a

Hindu deity in Malaysia," said the temple Chairman R. Nadarajah. "It's also the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world. We are trying to get it reported in the Guinness Book of World Records."

Fifteen sculptors from India and 15 other general workers took more than three years to build the statue at a cost of more than 2 million Ringgit (US$550,000; Euro455,000).

"All in all, 1,550 cubic meters of concrete, 350 tons of steel bars and 300 liters of paint were used," Nadarajah said.

The unveiling came two weeks ahead of the annual Hindu festival of Thaipusam, when up to a million people visit the temple to pay homage to Lord Murugan and make penitence.

Devotees pierce the skin on their backs and chests with scores of hooks, or drive skewers through their cheeks and tongues before climbing to the temple.

Malaysia's religious majority, about 60 percent of the population, comprises ethnic Malay Muslims. There is also a large ethnic Chinese minority who are mainly Buddhists and Christians.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 17:17 IST