Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian Muslim cleric has said that he had never equated Indian clothing like ‘kurta, pajama' to religious attire, retracting his earlier objection to the country's prime minister wearing “Hindu attire” while attending Thaipusam festival here. Saying that his comments had been misquoted, Dr Mohd Asri, mufti of Perlis state, explained that he was not against Muslims wearing the cultural dress of another ethnic community.
His clarification came after local media quoted him as saying that the Prime Minister Najib Razak's advisors should have advised him not to wear the “Hindu attire” while attending religious programmes of other faiths such as the Thaipusam celebration at Batu Caves on February 3. Razak had attended the gathering wearing a kurta. “Some quarters have inaccurately quoted my statement regarding religious attire,” Asri said in a post on a social media page.
“I have never equated Indian clothing as religious clothing but I spoke about clothing which if worn during certain ceremonies reflect or signify that a person is also celebrating that particular religious ceremony,” he said. Citing an example, Asri said wearing black was permissible in Islam.
However, if the colour was of significance to a religious or even cultural event that could be a “black metal” concert, then the Muslim in attendance should avoid wearing that colour.
Thaipusam is a colourful annual religious festival in which many believers pierce their bodies with hooks and skewers to honour Lord Murugan's victory over demon hordes.
During the festival, celebrated in India, Malaysia, Singapore and other areas with significant Hindu Tamil communities, many display their devotion by bearing decorated frames, called “kavadi”, which are fixed to a person's body using sharp metal spikes dug into their flesh in a form of penance.