Thaipusam 2022 SOPs have been announced, will be based upon individual temple capacity

Source: Asia Nikkei, USA Today

Celebrated by members of the Tamil community every year during the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai, which usually occurs in January or February, the Thaipusam festivities in Malaysia will officially commence this year on 18th January 2022 next Tuesday. With that in mind, those who will be partaking in the festival will have to ensure that they abide all the necessary COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure the safety of all attendees present!

Thaipusam SOPs have been announced for 2022

For your convenience, we have broken down all of the most crucial SOPs for Thaipusam, as announced by national unity minister Halimah Sadique. It is important to note that according to Halimah, the SOPs were drawn up based upon recommendations that were previously submitted by individual temple managements, alongside health risk assessments conducted to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 during the festival.

In general, only those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to participate in the Thaipusam ceremonies this year. They will be required to wear a mask at all times, and must maintain a social distance of 1-metre. Additionally, only individuals aged 18 and above may join.

1. Paal Kodam (milk offerings) 

The Paal Kodam processions will be allowed to take place from today (14th January 2022) to next Wednesday (19th January 2022), and may only last 30 minutes per session. Those bearing offerings must first register with the temple and wear a tag before partaking in the procession. This is followed immediately by the sanitisation of all surfaces upon completion of every session for half an hour.

Women making milk offerings during Thaipusam.
Source: USA Today

The maximum capacity of devotees permitted for each temple are as follows:

  • Sri Subramaniar Swarmy Batu Caves Temple, Selangor: 100
  • Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple (Penang), Nagarathar Thandayuthapani Temple George Town (Penang), Ipoh Hindu Devastanam Paripalana Sabah Temple (Kallumalai Sri Subramaniam Alayam) (Perak) and Sri Subramaniyar Thevasthana Paripalana Temple Sabah Sungai Siput (Perak): 50
  • Other temples across Malaysia: 30

2. Prayers 

A man praying during Thaipusam.
Source: imb

In the case of prayers, the government has allotted 12 slots for the Sri Subramaniar Swarmy Batu Caves Temple on the 16th, 17th, and 19th of January 2022, between the hours of 5.00am to 5.00pm. 18 sessions will be allotted on the 18th of January 2022 between the hours of 5.00am to 11.00pm. Each session will last approximately 30 minutes, which will then be followed by a thorough disinfection of all surfaces.

  • Only 6,000 individuals are permitted to join every day in total at Sri Subramaniar Swarmy Batu Caves Temple.
  • Only 500 individuals are permitted to join every session held in the Sri Subramaniar Swarmy Batu Caves Temple.

As for Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in George Town, Penang; Nagarathar Thandayuthapani Temple (George Town); Ipoh Hindu Devastanam Paripalana Sabah Temple (Kallumalai Sri Subramaniam Alayam) in Perak; and Sri Subramaniyar Thevasthana Paripalana Temple Sabah Sungai Siput (Perak), 12 prayer sessions will be allocated on the 16th, 17th, and 19th January 2022 between the hours of 5.00am to 5.00pm. On the 18th of January 2022, 18 prayer sessions will be available between the hours of 5.00am to 11.00pm.

  • Only 3,000 individuals are permitted to join in total every day at these temples.
  • Only 250 individuals are allowed to join every session held by these temples.

For all other temples in Malaysia, 12 prayer sessions will be allocated on the 16th, 17th, and 19th January 2022 between the hours of 5.00am to 5.00pm. On the 18th of January 2022, 18 prayer sessions will be available between the hours of 5.00am to 11.00pm.

  • Only 500 individuals are permitted to join in total every day at these temples.
  • Only 50 individuals are permitted to join for every session held at these temples.

3. Chariot processions 

Only those who are from the temple management may be allowed to participate in chariot processions for Thaipusam this year. Those involved must first register with the temple management and are required to wear a tag at all times. The procession routes must also receive police approval prior to being held.

A Thaipusam procession.
Source: Asia Nikkei

In the case of the Sri Subramaniar Swarmy Batu Caves Temple, only 100 escorts from the temple will be allowed to join in the chariot procession, and the route must have no more than 10 stops along the way.

For the chariot processions at Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple (Penang), Nagarathar Thandayuthapani Temple George Town (Penang), Ipoh Hindu Devastanam Paripalana Sabah Temple (Kallumalai Sri Subramaniam Alayam) (Perak) and Sri Subramaniyar Thevasthana Paripalana Temple Sabah Sungai Siput (Perak), no more than 100 escorts from these respective temples are allowed to accompany the chariot, and the procession must make no more than seven stops.

For all other temples in Malaysia, no more than 50 escorts from temple management will be allowed to participate, and the procession must make no more than five stops along their route.

Other miscellaneous SOPs: 

  1. Head shaving is allowed in accordance to current SOPs allocated to barbershops.
  2. Permanent stalls that are set up by temple managements on temple grounds will be allowed.
  3. Ritual baths are permitted in designated areas selected by temple management.
  4. Temples will be instructed to cancel all ceremonies in the event a positive COVID-19 case is found involving Thaipusam ceremonies held any of the earlier dates of 14th to 17th and 18th January 2022.

Not allowed: 

  1. Kavadi events
  2. Thanir phandal and anathanam (the distribution of food and drink)
  3. Temporary food stalls that are set up outside temple grounds

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Also read: Bangsa Malaysia: M’sians of all races & religions unite to help clean Chinese & Indian temples as well as surau after floods

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