Ramble, Thinking Out Loud

THAIPUSAM Part 1: DIVINE OR DIRTY? – As I Was Passing

THAIPUSAM Part 1: DIVINE OR DIRTY?


This is a rather long entry but I reckon one that is well worth your time. Read on.

“Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Welcome on board to flight Airasia AK5218 bound for Kuching. We apologize for the delay in this flight. The captain of this flight is Calvin Hoh assisted by first officer Anand Santosh and I’m Lina Arshad, head of the cabin crew. This flight will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes”

To that I found myself thinking “Seriously, Airaisa, you suck.” I was rushing like mad, driving a Kelisa like it’s a Ferari only to reach the airport, with no announcement of delay whatsoever and was made to wait at the boarding gate 45 minutes past the scheduled time. And no,you don’t mean that apology.

I mean this is like the 100th time your company’s flight is delayed and we are left with no option but to disregard your rude business ethics and you call yourself the Winner of the Best Low Cost Carrier Award for few consecutive years.

The only reason why I still stick around is because you are always  cheaper than other airlines and I can’t swim across South China Sea. 

I was tired. Mentally and more so physically. Thaipusam has drained me completely. I closed my eyes and fell asleep right away. Then I had a dream.

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It was a day after Thaipusam and I was in Batu Caves, KL.

I was me and I was sitting on the stairs inside Batu Caves, where the main Lord Muruga statue is located. Next to me was a political leader of the temple, Dato S. Karthigeyan ( This was my understanding in the dream). Couldn’t really make out his face but he was rather handsome. Below is the excerpt of my conversation with this man.

 Me: Dato, (Can I call you Dato?) Your temple is beautiful. I heard you’re the leader of the temple commitee.

 Dato K : As you wish. Thank you. It is indeed one of a kind. Yes, I lead a great team and the temple devotees are fantastic.

 Me: Somehow your temple reminds me of my own only mine is a somewhat 360 degree change from this one. It’s so clean here and it was Thaipusam yesterday right? You know in my 25 years or so of visiting my temple for Thaipusam, in the recent years where I was actually enlightened enough to be in sync with all that is happening around me, I realised God and filth existed in the same place. It’s disgusting. With over a million people coming here, a million more kilograms of rubbish is generated. There’s hair, food, polystyrene, fruits, milk cartoons and all other sort of trash mixed everywhere. :(  How is it that it’s so clean here?

Dato K:  You saw some huge heavy duty plastic bins along the way when you came up right?  Those were created by my waste disposal management team which comprise of a few environmental engineers and other committed personnel. The bins are connected to suction pumps underneath to channel rubbish to a nearby temporary area so that the bins don’t overflow and someone else is in charge of the operation of the suction pumps. At the landfill, the pump is then connected to a machine that separates recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Besides that, the team have people to do the necessary housekeeping and regular removal of garbage from the other smaller bins that is everywhere on the temple ground. We have also installed pipelines to provide filtered clean water for devotees to reduce and ultimately one day ban the use of plastic bottles.  But ultimately, it’s the attitude of your own temple goers who has no regards for cleanliness. Everyone has that ” Everyone is throwing, so why should I bother?” attitude.

Me: True. Well said. But all this must have cost you a lot of money right?

Dato K: Initially yes but this system has worked for years and in long run it actually saves time, energy and money but hey I gathered your temple commitee has a lot of money and still they are finding means and ways to increase their revenue. One of my staff told me that bigger sized Undial (coin tanks) has finally set its foot here and boy that garland for your PM must have easily cost you people a few thousand ringgit. It’s a miracle no one collapsed that day. Haha.

 Me: Yup, someone did not sleep making that garland. I also see that within the temple compound there is no stalls or shops selling anything. It’s actually free and easy though I must say your temple devotees are just as much as ours.

 Dato K : Of course they are. People need to eat, don’t they? My planning commitee actually had months of preparation for Thaipusam every year. We basically sit down in a  meeting and brain storm on the proper layout, ease of crowd movement, placement of stalls and mind you not anything and everything can be sold, the selection commitee takes care of that. We grouped eatery areas in a certain place and those who have the intention to have their head shaven need to go to designated area where we have employed people to clean the place continously.

 Me: That’s really possible. You know, I must say that polystyrene containers are the major culprit in the accumulation of waste in my place. But you must applaud the effort of an organization in my temple, the Sri Agastiyar Sanmarkam who have been serving the people with delicious free food. In the recent years, the commitee has actually stopped giving food to people via take away containers and adopted the holistic serving method on the table using a layer of plastic above plates. This to my believe has greatly reduced the polystyrene’s environmental destruction to a certain extent and resulted in less food wastage.

 Dato K : Ah, yes. The enlightened ones among the clouded many, is it not? Perhaps someday you should take up your social responsibility in volunteering too. I’m sure you would’ve heard that service to man is service to God right? My temple ground has a few of this type of voluntary food eatery areas. We actually fund this eateries well to equip them with the facilities needed as donations are hard to come by for good purposes these days.

 Me: Dato, you know what is the other main problem? Parking and its fees. We have people suddenly claiming ownership towards a certain piece of land and started  charging RM10/car. Almost all of them look like the local druggie. We just pay them. Afraid of the damage they might cause to our cars.

 Dato K : I reckon your public transportation isn’t utilized fully. Also your RELA members and the local councils are not engaged actively.

 Me: Dato, I don’t see any kalsads around here.

 Dato K : Kalsads? Apdina? (meaning?)

Me: Oh, kalsad originated from my dad actually. It’s an abbreviation from kalsadai. :p It’s actually a term used to describe a  conglomeration of barbaric human beings, karat machas, poriki rascals, tidir (sudden) rempits and other versions of uncivilized human beings.

 Dato K : How creative. Haha.  Nop, no such people here.

 Me: Lucky you. You know, inthe kalsad thollai tangge mudiyilai pa. ( The kalsad’s annoyance is unbearable). Imagine the torture the devotees, had to go through while carrying palkudam from KL to Batu Caves. As it is, the roads were never clear for the devotees to walk with brainless people breaking thousands of coconut on the road. Then the rempits who force themselves for space in between the devotees seemed to have crawled out of their hole simultaneously just to irritate the lives of the normal people with their heroic vroom vroom. The icing of the cake would be some morons who park their car with their sophisticated speaker box blaring the current hip Tamil movie song. And oh not forgetting  the irritating vuvuzela and the coloured wig.

Did you see them? I mean since when Thaipusam became the Malaysian Indian World Cup  and are all those wig wearing nuts going for the Trojan soap advertisement? As if the amplification of Kolaveri on FB is not enough, some people with astounding entrepreneurship skills brilliantly came up with Kolaveri T-Shirts for sale. Seriously, how  can people buy it and then wear it? I’d rather spend the money to buy kacang rebus for a month.

Dato K : Relax. Take a chill pill. You can’t do much. So here, your local police has clearly failed and your temple needs gate keepers.

 Me: What do you mean? Deny people from entering the temple? That’s like denying God from them right?

 Dato K : Do you really think this kalsads came to pray? They so called accompany a friend, who happens to be the devotee. The rest of it all is wayang and  public nuisance. Most of them never come up the stairs. They need to be thought a lesson. If action was taken among a few, many would think twice to commit the same offense again. In my commitee, even the devotees are banned against bringing any form of weapon be it a Muniswaran Parang or a Kali Trishool. Seriously, all that is only mojo. Again. It serves no purpose at all and risks the safety of others too. You might never know which kalsad will strike another using a parang that was carried in the name of God.

 Me: Dato, does your temple poosaris’ (priest) collect payment when they do archanai or during the milk pouring time?

Dato K: Huh, why need to pay? God definitely gets no share from it right?

Me: Precisely my point. You see, the devotees walk 15km or so with a milk pot on their head, stepping on broken coconut, stones and sand, getting brushed by that squirrel tail alike wig among the crowd apart from being annoyed with that blaring horn and motorcycle ramming only to what? Pay Rm10 for the poosari to pour 90% of the milk in less than 5 seconds?  This year I simply didn’t pay and I went an extra step to further annoy thepoosari. I poked only a medium size hole on the plastic on my kudam so that I could actually watch the milk being poured slowly and actually pray. Clearly, it worked and I manage to annoy  him because upon finishing he was like ” Plastic ke, mulusa turaka mudiyatho? ( Can’t you open the plastic fully?) and sort of shoved the empty kudam back to me.

Dato K : Haha. Mudiyum anna mudiyathe. :p ( You can, but you can’t)
Well, in my temple, we don’t actually pour the entire pot out, just a small amount and give back the remaining to the devotees for them to drink the blessed milk. We don’t even encourage milk or any form of food related items. What’s the point, it gets wasted anyway. And we do not do any form of personal archanai to collect money nor do you have to pay for any archanai to be done.  All you have to do is just pray like you should. Sincerely. Regularly the poosaris will show the arathi for all. Should you want to donate any amount, you’re allowed to do so. You see, my poosaris are here to serve God and not really the devotees per say. They’re all paid enough and are not greedy.

Me: You know Dato K. I can’t help to be so bitter about Thaipusam now. Clearly it has lost its divinity by and large. In my place, it’s heavily politicized, massively commercialized and the mismanagement has clearly created a toll on real devotees who go there to pray. Every year, the nonsense and nuisance just gets wilder. As much as I think, the spiritualism exhibited by the devotees are one a kind, worth sharing and respecting, the dark side of Thaipusam humiliates me so much.

Dato K : Now, my child. Don’t be too discouraged. It’s true, spiritualism can be heavily clouded with the mist of politics but all you need is clarity in your heart to see God everywhere and not just here in Thaipusam. It’s like looking at a beautiful painting with a little spot of dirt in a corner. If you look past the dirt, all you see is the beautiful painting as it is. That alone should matter and you should appreciate only that.

Me: How wise of you. So Dato, are you contesting for the next general election?

I was awaken with a loud thud. The plane landed.

“Ladies and gentleman, we have just landed in Kuching International Airport. Please remain seated untill the airplane comes to a complete stop and mind your heads while opening the overhead compartments. We hope you’ve enjoyed flying with us as much as we have and we hope to see you again in future. On behalf of Airasia and members of the cabin crew, I’d like to wish you all good night.”

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If you have patiently read my dream story, I thank you, but I’m sorry to have deluded you this far because no such dream happened and even if it did, no one can remember it word by word in that manner. It was just a figment of my imagination.

Albeit all these, the truth of the matter still holds.The take home message is rather simple.

1. If you actually read this, chances are you’re not a kalsad but a tech savvy educated person but the fact still remains that you too LITTER on the temple ground every Thaipusam and also in other places as well. Let’s correct that first.

2.Secondly, vote for the right people if you have registered to be one. If you haven’t, do me a favour. Go register as a voter. Whatever happens after that is beyond your control but our collective voice matters. Only then change can take place. And also teach your loved ones to vote for the right people. They may not be an IT intellect like you and probably are not enlightened about the many money mismanagement issues that happens around us.

3. Thirdly, don’t donate to temples during festivals like this or even in the temples when you pray.  Don’t even put money in the undial. Donate it to the cripple you see on a wheelchair in the temple ground. Trust me, the least he’s gonna do with it is to buy himself food. And he’ll bless you and actually say “Rombe nandri akka”. Instead of that poosaris who scowls at you.

4. Fourthly, take up your social responsibility to volunteer for the community and do it with passion without expecting anything in return. This is a tall order but one that is worth its value.

And oh, the kalsads? Nothing much you can do.

Let the barking dogs bark. They’ll probably have to be reborn again many times to exhaust their karmic debt.

Please share this if you like it, even if you didn’t like it, share it anyway. Thanks.

Label: Culture Thinking Out Loud

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