For some 162 years, the Nagarattaar Chettiyaars have organised the silver chariot procession for the annual Penang Taipusam Hindu festival in George Town City.
Record shows that before introducing the silver chariot, the Nagarattaar Chettiyaars had organised wooden chariot procession for the annual event for some 36 years.
Taipusam is the grandest religious-cultural festival celebrated in Penang.
Penang Taipusam is among the earlier and oldest religious festival celebrated in Malaysia.
The Chettiyaar community and the silver chariot have always been part of the festival history.
Now the DAP state government, through the antiquated Penang Hindu Endowments Board (PHEB), aims to rival the Chettiyaars by having its own golden chariot procession carrying the Lord Muruga sacred spear, the Vel.
Taipusam 2017 falls on Thursday Feb 9 and the double chariot processions have been scheduled to kick-start the religious carnival at dawn on Feb 8.
The silver chariot will move from its traditional home – the Chettiyaars Kovil Veedu in Lebuh Penang, George Town – and reach the Nagarattaars’ Thandayuthabani Koyil in Waterfall at midnight.
The DAP’s golden chariot is expected to kick-start its journey an hour earlier from the Queen Street Mahamariamman Koyil, some 100m away from Kovil Veedu, and reach Waterfall hilltop temple – Balathandayuthabani Koyil, also about midnight.
Unconstitutional to interfere into Hindu religious affairs
Firstly the DAP government and its PHEB has no business to interfere or organise anything pertaining to Hindu religious matters.
One must read through the colonial law, Hindu Endowments Ordinance 1906 together with Article 11 of the Federal Constitution to comprehend the fact that that state – which means government – shall not interfere in any religious affairs unless it was something to do with Islam.
The affairs of non-Islamic religions will have to be managed by the respective own communities.
As PHEB is a statutory body governed by an outdated colonial law, it has no business in interfering into Hindu religious affairs.
Since many Hindus, especially Tamils who formed the majority of the Indian Malaysian community, are either ignorant or naive about the law, the DAP government has seized advantage for political mileage.
The Nagarattaar Chettiyaars, or any responsible Hindu, should take legal action to once of all end the sickening hegemony of PHEB.
Isn’t it comical to have two chariot processions on Taipusam Day?
But the DAP government is prepared to become a comedy piece just to stir Indian sentiments, split Penang Hindus along caste lines and, according to its calculations, win votes.
It’s like prostituting a Hindu festival for political mileage – a mockery of Taipusam, a pride of Penang Tamil Hindus.
But truth is it’s a venomous effort and if allowed to continue unabated will cause irreparable long-term damage to the community in long run.
The PHEB chairman is Deputy Chief Minister II (DCM2) P. Ramasamy, who has been speculated to be replaced as DCM2 after the next general election (GE14).
Observers claimed that Ramasamy was trying to use the golden chariot to win over Indians support for him in case the DAP decided to kick him out as DCM2.
“He thinks he would be seen as a hero among Tamils in Penang,” said a critic.
“Hence politicisation of religion for political mileage.”
PHEB is trying to create an impression that it was imposing the Tamil Hindu dominance over Chettiyaars, a Tamil sub-caste community famous for temple construction and management, by introducing a ‘waste of money’ golden chariot.
It’s a clear hogwash.
Chettiyaars are after all, Tamil Hindus. Aren’t they?
So why we need the divide and rule policy?
Many Hindus hope that the Putrajaya administration would issue a directive to the police to not to issue a permit for the golden chariot procession to clear this DAP-PHEB messy and shambolic religious politics.
It is an abuse of power and misuse of the law, by definition illegal and unconstitutional for PHEB to interfere into religious affairs of the Hindus.
It should just stay put as the trustee of Hindu properties in Penang.
It actually should have utilised the Hindu assets to develop affordable houses, Tamil schools, higher learning institutes, hospitals, welfare homes and business premises for Tamil Hindus.
But it had failed to do so.
Instead PHEB is giving Hindus a wasteful golden chariot which serves no purpose.
It looks like the DAP government would never develop the Hindu properties in Penang kept under trust of PHEB for Hindus because it would be a booster for the community growth.
Surely DAP Chinese would not welcome such growth.
Penang Hindus, unlike Chinese, have not benefited in great deal under the DAP rule for past eight years.
Recent dialogue sessions organised in Penang by a prominent Hindu-based organisation revealed that many grassroots Indians generally felt that the current state administration had been a “government with the Chinese, by the Chinese and for the Chinese.”
Well! That’s the general feeling among Malays in Penang as well.
The golden chariot drama is a further proof on how the DAP Chinese were using caste politics to divide and rule Tamil Hindus in Penang.
It shows how the DAP Chinese have got their hand on Hindu religion affairs, via its Indian stooges, to play politics as if it was so crucial for Tamil Hindus of other castes to put one over Chettiyaars.
But the naive and ignorant Tamil Hindus will continue to support DAP because they seem can’t get over the feeling of having been “betrayed” by BN and MIC.
These naïve and ignorant Indians would be ever willing to be “toilet papers” for DAP Chinese, who will continue to rule the roost in the island-state based on a racist agenda.
The DAP government, instead of giving Hindus the impractical golden chariot, should have resolved many outstanding issues affecting PHEB.
The theft of gold bars from PHEB coffers for instance.
No one knows what had happened, on whether the gold bars had been recovered and had the culprit or culprits caught.
The DAP government is yet to explain on how the gold bars went missing in the first place.
What happened to an alleged theft of temple collection money by a PHEB staff.
Was he ever charged in court for the crime?
Was the public money recovered?
There is also an allegation of a priest in one of the temple under the PHEB trust trying to molest a female devotee.
It’s learnt a police report was lodged on the alleged incident.
Was it true?
The DAP government should come clean on all these alleged controversies, isn’t it not?
What happened to thousands of ringgit collected from lay public for the Sri Lanka Tamil war victims since 2008?
The money was allegedly transferred to an UK-based organisation called Mercy Missions, which was allegedly headed by two Sri Lankan Tamils.
The money RM73,481.40 was allegedly transferred from Public Bank branch in Jalan Macalister, George Town to an account no. 50681346 registered at Nat West Bank branch in Nicholas Centre, Sutton, Surrey in London, UK, purportedly belonging to Mercy Missions.
The money was alleged transferred on June 11, 2009.
Did the money collected by the DAP from lay public in Malaysia reach the Sri Lankan Tamils?
If yes, when did the money reach them?
If not, why the money did not reach them?
What happened to the money then?
The Chinese-controlled Penang DAP government must come clean on this Mercy Mission fiasco, instead of trying to meddle into Hindu religious affairs and split Penang Hindus along caste lines.
It’s time to repeal the Hindu Endowments Ordinance and abolish the board, which has clearly overstepped its legal boundary and gone overboard.
The golden chariot controversy has clearly brought displeasure and embarrassment to Penang Hindu community.
If golden chariot were to take place, it can cause a permanent adverse impact on Penang Hindu unity, thanks to DAP.
Penang Hindus must wake up to fight this DAP hegemony.
Lim Dynasty’s coup de CM to grab power in Penang in GE12
Kampung Buah Pala – Penang DAP’s CAT not a good guard of the house
Penang DAP government and its land sales to balance the books
Half-truths, half-lies hallmarks of Penang DAP government
Stop the blame game on flash floods in Penang – DAP government told
Snap poll to protect dynastic legacy?
Lim must go