The Malaysia Hindu Sangam has advised those who attended the Masi Magam Theppa Thirunal (Floating Chariot Festival) at the Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple in Teluk Bahang, Penang, to get themselves tested for Covid-19 if they are showing any symptoms of the disease.

More than 30,000 people thronged the temple on the 8th of March, with temple committee chairman A. Kanapathy saying that the festival attracted devotees and visitors from all over the country including neighbouring countries, The Star reported.

“Although fewer people are travelling because of Covid-19, but we are happy with the turnout and the festival was carried out smoothly, ” he said, while adding that more than 100 stalls selling food and drinks were also set up at the venue.

This event took place more than a week after the highly publicised tabligh convention at Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling was held. Referred to as the Ijtima Tabligh, this event was held from the 27th of February up until 1st March 2020. It saw 14,500 participants, including 1,500 foreigners. Yesterday, the Ministry of Health Malaysia reported that the highest spike of Covid-19 cases, amounting to 190 new patients, resulted from this event.

This event took place more than a week after the highly publicised tabligh convention at Masjid Jamek Sri Petaling was held.

People have come out to question both religious gatherings, particularly the Masi Magam Theppa Thirunaal, where the organisers appear to have completely ignored the global pandemic.

“This is what happens when people do not pay attention or allow their selfish religious beliefs to comprise the health security of the collective,” writes former Navy Commander S Thayaparan, in a Malaysiakini comment article, referring to the Masi Magam Theppa Thirunaal. “How in God’s name did the festival organisers get the go-ahead for this event? This happened after the Sri Petaling religious gathering and I get that this event has been planned and God knows we do not want to “offend” any community. But this really should not have happened,”

This is what happens when people do not pay attention or allow their selfish religious beliefs to comprise the health security of the collective

Thayaparan goes on to comment on Consumers Association of Penang education officer N.V. Subbarow’s remark that volunteers were tasked with picking up leftover rubbish in the Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple as part of the cleaning-up process.

“At any other time, this sort of social conscious tidbit would be good optics for the kind of selfishness that permeates such events, but at this point of time, it is a reminder of how serious the situation is when everyone is stockpiling hand sanitisers and should be maintaining a respectable social distance from one another,” he writes.

The Malaysia Hindu Sangam president, Datuk RS Mohan Shan said that there have been no positive cases from the people who attended the Masi Magam Theppa Thirunaal so far.

In spite of the notice issued by the Malaysia Hindu Sangam, the Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple authorities decided to go ahead with this large gathering. – datuk rs mohan shan

He also said that the association has issued notices to more than 2000 registered Hindu temples in Malaysia to avoid organising mass gatherings of events. In spite of this, the Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple authorities decided to go ahead with this large gathering.

If you attended the Masi Maagam Theppa Thirunaal and are currently experiencing fever, cough, a runny nose and/or shortness of breath, please visit your nearest healthcare provider.