The Consumers Association of Penang and several other NGOs today advised Hindus fulfilling vows during Thaipusam to reduce the number of coconuts for the ritual-breaking and use the money saved to meet the needs of poor Indians.
CAP education officer NV Subbarow said breaking coconuts on Thaipusam was an act of cleansing practised by Hindus and any offering to God had to be regarded as “prasadam” (blessed food) that had to be shared among devotees and not discarded as leftovers.
He spoke at a press conference that was also attended by Penang Hindu Association president V Palanisamy, Malaysia Hindu Dharma Mamandram Penang chairperson V Nanda Kumar and Malaysia Hindu Sangam Penang vice-chairperson A Tharman.
Subbarow said it was estimated that 350,000 coconuts were smashed last year, adding that it was a huge number.
He said the ritual should be conducted correctly with the smashing of just one coconut with devotion and by taking into account the rising cost of coconuts.
“It should be noted that the supply of coconuts from Bagan Datuk, Perak, has been declining due to a shortage of manpower to pluck the fruits and the uncertain weather that affects crop productivity.
“Therefore, I urge all Hindu devotees to exercise thrift and adhere to the correct practice of the religion and set a fine example for the younger generation of Hindus,” he said.
Subbarow also asked the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry to impose control on the price of coconuts, saying that a single fruit would fetch RM4.50 during Thaipusam, instead of the usual RM1.50.