Hindu Endowments Board will continue engaging authorities in reviewing rules for Thaipusam

Hindu Endowments Board will continue engaging authorities in reviewing rules for Thaipusam

SINGAPORE - The Hindu Endowments Board has said it will continue to engage the authorities to review the conditions imposed for Thaipusam.

"Such engagement resulted in the relaxation of the rules in 2011 when singing of religious hymns was allowed along the procession route," chairman R Jayachandran said in a statement today.

"Our Board values the views of Hindus and other stakeholders in our review of our services. Those who wish to give their feedback may write or email us, or post them on our Facebook," he added.

The statement comes after a scuffle broke out on Tuesday's Thaipusam, leading to the arrest of three men. They were charged in court yesterday for various offences.

Netizens have debated on the prohibition of musical instruments during the procession, with some pointing out that there were no similar restrictions for other public ceremonies such as lion dances and weddings.

On Friday, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam said that these questions, while fair, arise from a misunderstanding of the rules.

"Most people don't realise, that in Singapore, all religious foot processions are banned. This ban was imposed in 1964, after riots," he said in a Facebook post.

He added that Hindus "have been given a special privilege" and allowed three religious foot processions - Thaipusam, Panguni Uthiram and Thimithi - and should, therefore, not feel discriminated against.

On Thursday, Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran also clarified while in Madrid that the ban on instruments, which has been in place since 1973, applies to all foot processions, regardless of religion.

huizhen@sph.com.sg

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