Singapore, Jan 20: Malaysia Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said his government will consider the request of the ethnic Hindu community to declare Thaipusam a national holiday.
"I promise I will consider this," media reports quoted Abdullah as saying yesterday at a function in Jalan Masjid India, the Indian community hub in central Kuala Lumpur, to celebrate Ponggal, a traditional harvest festival held by ethnic Indians as it is done in India. Currently, Thaipusam, which is held in late January or early February as prayers to Hindu gods and deities, is a holiday in the Malaysian states of Selangor, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Penang, which has a large ethnic Indian community.
Indian Hindus of Malaysia fast for some 40 days before paying penance to their god on Thaipusam day as it is done in the southern part of India.
Thaipusam has become a colourful festival and draws international tourists both in Malaysia and Singapore.
Mr Abdullah has been giving a lot of consideration to the ethnic Indians, mostly Hindus, who had voiced their grievances by holding a protest rally on 25 November last year.
Abdullah's ruling multi-party coalition Barisan Nasional or National Front is also going for a general election in March and is wooing back the disgrunted Hindus of the two million ethnic Indian population in Malaysia.