Thaipusam devotees told: One is enough

The Consumers Association of Penang is again urging those wanting to break coconuts during the chariot procession to stop breaking hundreds or thousands.

subbarowGEORGE TOWN: NV Subbarow just doesn’t give up. The Consumers Association of Penang education officer is back again this year to remind Thaipusam goers that “Just one coconut is enough”.

Subbarow has been spearheading CAP’s campaign since 1998 to discourage devotees from breaking too many coconuts in front of the chariot bearing the statue of Lord Muruga during Thaipusam.

Tourists never fail to take pictures of people breaking thousands of coconuts in Penang during the Thaipusam chariot procession. It is part of the spectacle in the state.

Devotees of Lord Muruga, many of them Chinese, wait along the chariot route with coconuts – anywhere from one to 10,001 – and break them in front of the chariot.

Hindu leaders have always said that it is not the number of coconuts broken but the intention that matters, adding that breaking one would suffice.

The breaking of the coconut, in Hinduism, symbolises the breaking of the ego, and that anyone who wants to be spiritual or divine needs to first get rid of the ego. With the dropping of the ego, differentiation is removed and, therefore, the devotee sees all life as equally to be respected.

Yesterday, Subbarow appealed to devotees to smash only one coconut each. He urged them to donate the rest of the money used for buying more coconuts to charitable causes, including to Tamil schools.

The Star quoted him as saying: “Buying thousands (of coconuts) to smash on the street and later throwing (them) in the dumpsite is not a Hindu practice.”

He reminded them that food items offered to God should be treated as “prasadam” (sanctified food) and eaten by devotees, not discarded.

Subbarow expects the price of coconuts to increase during Thaipusam.

“Coconuts were retailed at RM2 to RM2.50 last week. The price may increase up to RM3,” he was quoted as saying.

The Star reported Anba Coconut Trading owner P Sarasvathy as saying that one Chinese devotee ordered 2,200 coconuts for the purpose.

Sarasvathy said most of her customers had ordered weeks ago and that her price this year was RM1.80, adding that her stock of about 70,000 coconuts had run out.

In Ipoh, the dwindling supply of coconuts has caused prices to climb from RM1.40 each to RM2.50. This, said the report, was partly due to the rainy season and floods at plantations, especially in the Bagan Datuk and Teluk Intan areas.

The Star quoted wholesaler Mohd Shariff Mohd Ibrahim as saying his clients bought about 35,000 coconuts for Thaipusam last year, but that he could only supply about 5,000 this year, blaming it on the weather.