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'Thaipusam can be a national holiday'

The Malaysian Govt has said it will consider a request by the ethnic Indians to declare the festival a national holiday.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2008 17:30 IST

The Malaysian government has said it will consider a request by the Hindu ethnic Indians to declare the festival of Thaipusam as a national holiday in this Muslim-majority, multi-religious country.

"I promise I will consider this," Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said at a function to celebrate the Hindu harvest festival of Pongal in Kuala Lumpur.

Currently Thaipusam, which is celebrated widely by Hindu ethnic Malaysian Indians, who are mostly from Tamil Nadu, is a holiday in the Malaysian states of Selangor, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Penang.

Every year on Thaipusam day, thousands of them climb the 172 steps of the Batu Caves outside the capital, balancing milk pails on their heads and many with spears pierced through their bodies, to pray at the Murugan temple atop.

Thaipusam is also widely observed among ethnic Indian Tamils in neighbouring Singapore with great verve.