Malaysian Hindu Sangam former president Datuk A. Vaithilingam has called on Hindus performing prayers and fullfilling vows to curb wastage during the Thaipusam festival.
Vaithilingam said while rituals and personal practices of devotees were a positive thing, some were no longer practical or conducive.
He cited as example the ritual of breaking coconuts.
“This act symbolises the surrendering of one’s ego and in the past, the broken coconuts were then collected and consumed.
“However, these days the coconuts are disposed of and end up in the landfill, adding to tonnes of waste.
“In view of this, if you wow to break coconuts, then just break one as a symbolic gesture,’’ he said, adding that it would defeat the purpose when one vowed to break thousands of coconuts but employed others to do it,’’ he added.
Vaithilingam also urged devotees who wish to provide free food and drinks to the masses during the Thaipusam festival, to co-ordinate with the NGOs and companies who will also be doing so.
Hindu priest Shiva Sri A.P. Muthukumara Sivachariar agreed with Vaithilingam, saying that the breaking of coconuts no longer seemed like an act of devotion.
He also advised devotees to reduce the number of coconuts they planned to break and donate the money to charity instead.
“On the distribution of free food and drinks, it is my view that there are too many people doing so and that is unnecessary. All the food and coconuts are ending up in DBKL dustbins and should be stopped,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia (EPSM) said it was happy with the Selayang Municipal Council’s green initiative this year.
It said private companies and NGOs distributing free food and drinks during Thaipusam should follow the rules and be environment-conscious.
EPSM president Nithi Nesadurai said that it was not going to be easy for NGOs, as polystyrene foam cups and packaging were the most convenient way to serve food.
“But it can be done and devotees and visitors can help by bringing along their own utensils,’’ he said.
“It is a shame that such an iconic event is associated with waste and litter everywhere in Batu Caves,’’ he said.
T.M. Ramachandran of the Hindu Seva Sangam (HSS), said the organisers were currently trying to work with a private company to distribute free food using eco-packs.
“It is costlier but much friendlier to the environment,’’ Ramachandran said.
“I also advise people to bring along their own cups and plates,’’ he added.
Malaysian Indian Progressive Association founder and president Rajaretinam Armuggan agreed with Ramachandran and Nithi, and urged the public to bring their cups and plates.