Thaipusam : the Chinese participants
by Kelvin Liew Peng Chuan
(Tanjong Tokong, Penang, Malaysia)
Chinese Devotees of Lord Muruga
I'm a 4th generation Chinese from Penang. Come Thaipusam each year, my family never fail to turn up to pay homage to Lord Muruga at the Waterfall temple.
One can see from the crowd of devotees at Waterfall, almost half of it consists of local Chinese! Their devotion to Lord Muruga can be traced back to one or two generations ago.
My late maternal grandmother knew about Lord Muruga when she was in her late 30's (1940's). She fondly referred to Lord Muruga as 'Ti Ti Ang Kong' , ('Ti Ti' being a corrupted version of the local Chinese pronunciation of Chetiar, and 'Ang Kong' which means God) God of the Chettiars.
Tales of miracles of this 'God of the Chettiars' abound..from granting children, to curing deadly sicknesses and even of punishing thieves.
One popular tale (to us,it sounds like a tale, but to her it was serious matter as recounted by my maternal grandmother as she heard it first hand when it happened) was of a thief who set his eyes on the jewelry bedecked statues of the gods in the temple.
He patiently waited until the wee hours of the morning, when most of the devotees went back and the priests were busy preparing for the next day's rituals before approaching the statues.
Just as his hand touched the jewelry, the grilled doors miraculously shut itself! The thief panicked and cried for mercy. His cries alerted the temple priests who later contacted the police. Crime never pays..especially when committed against some divine power.
Her faith in Lord Muruga was passed down to my parents, and they in turn passed it on to me. This is generally how the Chinese in Penang come to syncretise Lord Muruga into their faith.
The Chinese devotees may not know much about Thaipusam or Lord Muruga when compared to their Hindu friends save testimonials of blessings but their devotion is at par with the rest of their Hindu friends.
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