Hindu Endowments Board apologises for Thaipusam procession disruption following public backlash

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The Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) has apologised for causing distress to devotees after videos that have been going viral online show a man who identifies himself as a HEB officer disrupting a family’s kavadi procession for seemingly no reason. The HEB indicated that the officer is a volunteer.

Interestingly, the HEB did not respond to the original viral Facebook post by Pradeep Thana. The board only responded when Thana linked his post in a comment on an unrelated post shared on the HEB’s Facebook page.

The CEO of the HEB, Rajasegar, addressed the issue and urged the affected individuals to reach out to the board. He also called for comments to be reserved “until we can find a resolution.”

The response, which was posted online yesterday, appears to have done little to assuage the public’s frustrations. Noted media manager, Manjula Balakrishnan, addressed the HEB’s apology in an open letter this morning and criticised the “tight leash” Thaipusam devotees are seemingly restricted to.

Balakrishnan also brought up the increased fee that is charged for paal kudam and kavadi this year before questioning where the revenue is going to since “nothing new has happened in the procession for the many years.”

Read the poignant letter in full here:

I write this on behalf of all Indians in Singapore.
Thaipusam is a festival close to all our hearts, as you would rightfully agree.
A law was passed in 1973 regarding playing loud musical instruments in public places.
But we still have Chinese lion dance troupe (or a Chingay festival). Or even door – to door visitations of lions and their musical troupe during Chinese New Year?
And we still have our Malay friends celebrating their joyous occasions, predominantly on Sundays, in the void deck.
And all these and more continue. It’s called tolerance. Something that Singapore is known for. I am hundred and one percent sure, none of our non-Indian friends will oppose to our Thaipusam procession accompanied by the much needed music.
Music that gives solace and strength to the devotees who are marching towards their salvation.
Ban alcohol. 
Ban weapons. 
Ban unruly behaviour.
But why music?
And why treat the ones who are still trying to adhere to this unfounded restriction and doing the best they can on the holy day?
I am happy that such a prompt and personalised message came from HEB after the circulation of the highly disturbing video where we see HEB personnel trying to intimidate and interrupt a peaceful family’s procession. Simply because they were singing on a mic?
It’s an act of bullying. And it doesn’t suffice to say that volunteers have a hard time handling the festival.
Then they should be clearly trained. Instructions and attitude flows top down.
Some of my other concerns that I hope will be addressed :
Increase on price for paal kudam and kavadi 
Nothing new has happened in the procession for the many years. Where is the revenue going to?
TIGHT LEASH
Why are we all treated with such a watchful eye and with so many restrictions that makes us look like collective bunch of trouble makers. What impression are we creating for the rest of Singapore?
I have participated in paal kudam for more than 20 years now and last few years has been so difficult standing in long queue with silence all around me.
Last night, we had bhajans in our house for my late auntie’s prayers. We sang from 12 midnight to 4.30am. This was right in the middle of a heartland neighbourhood with people who might be sleeping and waking up to get ready for their day.
But there wasn’t a single complaint. 
This is called racial harmony.
Please let’s not point fingers at our non Indian friends and say that we are censoring ourselves for their benefit. I truly believe they are much more understanding than that.
If there are really some other reasons behind these restrictions, it’s high time that they be made transparent to Singaporeans.
For a start, why not a round table discussion with key members of the public for a candid discussion about what can be done to serve the community better?
If not, I fear, with true cause, that in the next few years, Thaipusam will not just be a silent affair. It will be an empty affair.
Seeking true remedies and answers, 
Manjula Balakrishnan

AN OPEN LETTER TO HEBI write this on behalf of all Indians in Singapore. Thaipusam is a festival close to all our…

Posted by Manju Balakrishnan on Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Public outrage grows over alleged discrimination against devotees at Thaipusam kavadi procession

51 COMMENTS

  1. Typical Singapore style over zealousness and overkill in maintaining law and order during public functions. The authorities need to be more friendly and sympathetic in their interaction with the public. They sometimes give the impression that this is a police state…

  2. I don’t know what are these people are doing. Once a year event and that no regular event. It’s an holy ceremony. One day noise cannot adapt. Is this going to unite us during bad times? It’s ok for police to be there prevent from accidents or look out for any suspicious character. Not stopping individual. They are praying for goodness sake. No freedom to pray also?

  3. Guys. Why ban music because the reason from the authority said that there may be fight if any kavadi groups trying to be more prominent by playing music louder. Well..I think if this may happened, then the police can send more manpower to monitor the entire procession. Any fight can immediately deal with but let our Hindu friends enjoy their festival. Hope my spelling correct.

  4. Of all people HEB volunteer Thamil Selvam warned them that their singing was very loud .who gave this volunteer power to demand someone identification card . The discrimination has been going on for too long against Indians .we Indians are only allowed one holiday compared to the other races and seen as criminals. This is what they call multi racial and religious is all about??? The HEB simply would push the blame the police ordered this .if that’s the case. Then it’s just like USA where the African American are treated like criminals. And in Singapore the Indians are simply been treated like criminals. The ministers and MPs that should be representing Indians would claim the Indians are privileged. And most Indian representatives in government are half Indians. Who doesn’t know how to speak a single Indian language. We need justice and fairness. The Chettiars from Thandayuthapani temple are caste base people. Who give the own people first choice in every festival and HEB is not for Hindus .every year the rise the price amount and only thinking of profits. Either then government should ban Thaipusam for good or they should start treating the Indian with respect

  5. Every year same problem. Just ban it. Our Hindu brothers and sisters can go to JB or Batu Caves. But what will Singapore Tourism Board do. When I was young, Thaipusam used to be a public holiday. As a non-Hindu, I looked forward staying at my grandparents house to view the kavadis at Tank Road and in the evening, the President will come to the Hindu Temple. Now it’s just rules, rules, rules.

  6. security is definitely needed in such events as theres bourne to be hooligans around. BUT what was done was bad.. that particular group that was harrassed posed no threat at all and was very very peaceful and enjoyin this thaipusam event in a proper way- peaceful, jovial, love. even the actions of the police was dissapointing.. u guys should know better when and towards who to take such actions..

  7. This fella shouldn’t use the phrase HEB but IEB which is Indian Endowment Board bcos he is not Hindu.
    He’s a fucking government puppet.If he truly believes in his faith,he should stand up for it. This asshole bias government is really useless. Thanks to the 69.9% that give these power ,money and freedom to do anything they want…..anything. Even change a Race blatantly whilst the nation watches.