KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, January 30, 2006: About 30,000 Hindu devotees and visitors came to witness the official unveiling of the country's tallest Lord Murugan statue on Sunday and the garlanding of the golden statue today. Temple officials were now hoping to get the 42.7m statue, located at the Sri Subramaniar Temple at the foot of Batu Caves, into the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest Lord Murugan statue in the world. Hundreds of balloons floated into the air and a shower of flowers fell from a hovering helicopter as Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu officially launched the opening ceremony about 6.15pm on Sunday. As darkness fell, a spectacular 20-minute display of fireworks lit the US$667,000 statue made of 1,550 cubic metres of concrete (that's 8.2 million pounds!), 250 tons of steel bars and 300 liters of gold paint brought in from Thailand. Fifteen Indian sculptors had worked on the project for three years.
A cultural performance by local artistes and singers from India continued till midnight. Yesterday morning, just as many people turned up again at the temple to witness a giant garland being placed on the statue - two weeks before Thaipusam. The $4004 flower garland, which was 43m long and weighed about a ton, was made of chrysanthemums which will last less than a week under the hot sun. "A total of five days without sleep and 18 men was what it took to prepare this enormous garland," said Sri Kertanas Floral manager, Mahendran Shanti. "One hundred and fifty people had to carry the garland to the temple. "We needed another 20 men to help lift it to the crane so it wouldn't sway and hit visitors," said Mahendran, who was among those who had carried the hefty garland. It was a complex operation and it took about an hour to hook the garland to the crane and for the crane to place the garland on the statue. "But all the hard work was worth it as we had hoped to have the statue as well as the garland ready before Thaipusam," said Mahendran's wife, Shanti. V. Malarvanan, who had sponsored the garland, said the flowers were brought in from Cameron Highlands. "Although I wasn't involved in the making of the garland, I was there the whole five days, to give them a little support so they wouldn't get side-tracked," he joked.