SIMPANG RENGGAM: Despite the scorching heat, Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar joined some 15,000 devotees at the Murugan Temple in the small town of Renggam for the Thaipusam festivities.
Not only did Hindu devotees gather at the temple grounds since early morning, people from all walks of life crowded the area in anticipation of the Sultan's arrival yesterday.
The Ruler, who arrived at about 2.30pm, received a warm welcome with loud cheers from the people who jostled with each other to shake hands with him. Some took the opportunity to snap photos with him.
Catching a glimpse of Sultan Ibrahim made waiting in the sun worth it for wheelchair-bound Rasina Yubi, 86, who woke up early to head to the temple with her family.
"We usually watch him on television and see him in the newspapers but we adore him and have the utmost respect for the royal family," she said.
Compliance officer B. Rajes, 28, who travelled with a few friends from Kulai, said that it was his first time joining in the celebration in Renggam as he wanted to see Sultan Ibrahim in person.
"I really admire the Johor Sultan, as he is known for being a friendly Ruler and a person who looks into the well-being of his subjects.
"I learnt that he was the first Sultan to join the Thaipusam celebration and I wanted to be a part of the historical moment," he added.
Businessman V. Ravi, 52, who has been celebrating Thaipusam annually at the temple for the past 30 years, said he was amazed at the huge crowd that turned up yesterday.
"We are really moved by the Ruler's willingness to come all the way to our small town, especially during Thaipusam.
"This is truly a special Thaipusam for the folks here," he added.
Sultan Ibrahim was entertained by traditional Indian performances while he enjoyed a vegetarian meal with the people before leaving.
Devotees carried kavadi and paal kudam (milk pots) along a 1.5km stretch between the temple and a nearby river, where the procession began a day earlier.