Putrajaya's eleventh-hour cancellation of kavadi bearing for Thaipusam has cost kavadi makers losses amounting to tens of thousands of ringgit.

Veteran kavadi maker Balasubramaniam Batumalai, 43, is one of them. He lost almost RM25,000 due to the announcement and the inconsistent decisions made by the Sri Subramaniar Temple (Batu Caves) management since December, reported the New Straits Times.

"Towards the end of last month, the temple committee said devotees would be allowed to carry kavaci and fulfil their vows before Jan 15.

"However, they banned the urumee melam, or drum performance, from accompanying kavadi processions and we agreed," he said, adding that he then faced hurdles in getting past the online registration system set up by the temple management, as it kept the changing the registration dates.

"Despite the hurdles, I registered 12 mayil kavadi (made of peacock feathers) and then the National Unity Ministry dropped a bombshell," Balasubramaniam rued.

According to him, making a mayil kavadi costs almost RM7,000 and takes about two weeks, as the statues and other materials have to be sourced from India.

Moving forward, Balasubramaniam, who is an instrumental engineer by day, fears that the kavadi-making art may die off if the govermment keeps imposing such bans for future events.

Ipoh-based kavadi maker Lawrance Dev, 34, said that the about 50-strong kavadi-makers in the city spent about RM40,000 each over the last two months to buy materials, hire workers and pay rental for their stores - sometimes forking out money from their own salaries from their day jobs, to make it work.

However, Putrajaya has poured cold water over their hardwork, he said, adding that the kavadi ban announcement should have at least been made in December last year, instead of several days before Thaipusam.

For the record, National Unity Minister Halimah Mohamed Sadique announced the no-kavadi ruling on Jan 12 (last Wednesday), which is less than a week from Thaipusam which falls tomorrow (Jan 18).

Das hoped that the government will consider reversing its decision on the matter, and allow at least less than 15 people from the same household to accompany a kavadi bearer.

His counterparts in Penang, however, did not suffer much losses, as the Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) had last month warned them of yet another year of muted celebrations.

One such kavadi-maker, Kuhanraj Asokan, 27, received orders for 24 kavadis since last November, and he only managed to sketch out designs for the kavadis, before the PHEB's announcement came.

Source: NST
Photo source: FMT