Fully vaccinated devotees can worship in groups of five for Thaipusam

Devotees will be able to worship in groups of five at this year's Thaipusam festival, which falls on Tuesday, although entry is limited to those who are fully vaccinated.

Those who are medically ineligible for Covid-19 vaccines under the national vaccination programme and unvaccinated children below 12 will also be allowed to participate.

A total of 14,000 devotees are expected to visit Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road, including 7,000 who will be carrying milk pot offerings called paal kudams, into the temple.

While devotees may worship in groups of five, those carrying milk pots will be able to enter the temple in a separate queue only in groups of two.

Devotees will be ushered into the temple from Monday midnight until 10pm on Tuesday.

There will again be no foot processions featuring kavadis from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road this year - part of steps to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection.

Barricades and signs will be in place to direct visitors to the entry and exit points at Tank Road, which will be closed to traffic, while 600 volunteers will be on-site throughout the day to direct the devotees.

There are two separate gates for entry into the temple, with no mingling allowed between the two routes to prevent the spread of Covid-19. All devotees entering the temple will have to use the TraceTogether app or token to check in during registration.

General visitors with a pre-booking can arrive for registration at the Tank Road entry point. After registration, they can join the lanes into the temple in groups of up to five worshippers. After completing prayers at the sanctum, they will be directed to the exit point.

Devotees wishing to carry milk pots are to arrive for registration at the River Valley Road entry point. Each devotee carrying a milk pot can be accompanied by one other individual. After registration, devotees will be ushered to four holding zones to prevent overcrowding inside the temple.

Pre-prepared milk pots will be given out at a designated point before devotees walk a round of the sanctum.

After offering milk at a collection point, they will be directed to the exit point at Clemenceau Avenue.

A total of 700 people will be allowed inside the temple at any one time.

A representative for the temple said the symbolic walk around the temple sanctum is to make up for the suspension of the foot procession at this year's Thaipusam festival for a second year in a row.

The festival organisers had said previously that these restrictions are needed as the world is experiencing new waves of Covid-19 infections. They said they decided to still hold the festival because of its historical significance.

"Everyone has come to understand that Covid-19 is a real and present danger that we have in the community right now," said the temple spokesman, adding that devotees appreciate the efforts made by the organisers to continue with the festival.

Devotees can visit the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple website or visit its Facebook page for updates on Thaipusam 2022.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2022, with the headline Fully vaccinated devotees can worship in groups of five for Thaipusam. Subscribe