MALAYSIA, October 17, 2011 (Times of India): In an interview with B. Sivakumar, Carl Vadivella Belle, former Australian diplomat and a devotee of Murugan, talks about his first visit to a Hindu temple and his interest in Hinduism:
"I was posted in Kuala Lumpur in the '70s. Shortly after my arrival, we were taken to a Murugan temple in Kelang. I was curious about the temple and about Hinduism; I knew very little about the major religions in Malaysia. Malaysians were friendly and were willing to explain their religious beliefs to me.
"I first attended Thai Poosam, a festival associated with Muruga, as an observer in January 1978, at Batu Caves, Malaysia. I was fascinated by enthusiasm of the people who carried kavadis, a wooden stick with two baskets. Later, friends in Malaysia sent me introductory religious material. One of the wisest pieces of advice was offered by an old Telugu friend who wrote to me with cautionary comments. I was told that I should fast for six weeks before taking a kavadi, abstain from alcohol, practise vegetarianism and sleep by myself on the floor.
"This was new to me; most Westerners are not used to practising restraint in any way at all! Later, I adopted the Hindu way of life. I was christened Carl Donald Belle. I changed my name in 1980s after my third kavadi. I felt that as a Hindu, I should have a Hindu name and so chose to be called Vadivel meaning Muruga. The name was adopted after consulting temple kurukkals or priests at a major Murugan temple in Kuala Lumpur. I also became a vegetarian.
More at source.