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

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