Amidst the hive of activity during Thaipusam ‘s procession at Batu Caves today, a young Malay woman was seen busy packing food for visitors.

Despite the scorching afternoon heat, 24-year old Nily Nuraina Noor Sham worked tirelessly and was happy to help out at an “annathanam” (offering people food) organised by Sevai Ashram Foundation Malaysia.

“It’s so nice to serve people for a good cause.

“I’m glad to be able to spread happiness to my fellow Malaysians especially those in need,” she said.

Nily Nuraina, the eldest of three siblings, expressed hope that she would always have the opportunity to play a role in promoting racial harmony.

She believed volunteerism would be an effective medium to enhance solidarity among Malaysians.

“Our nation enjoys a rich mix of people and culture.

Nuraina said she had always wanted to take part in volunteer efforts in festival celebrations but never had the opportunity to do so.

That was until her senior from the Malaysian Institute of Baking invited her to join the annathanam.

“We should not take for granted that the atmosphere of racial harmony will stay forever,” said the Seremban lass.

Sevai Ashram Foundation Malaysia chairman Wasanthee Sinnasamy said the foundation had been holding the annathanam during Thaipusam for the last 16 years.

This year, the charity organisation prepared 50,000 packets of vegetarian nasi lemak for the people especially devotees.

“The food, which included 3,000 kg of rice, is sponsored by the public.

“We had about 300 volunteers who gave their time to prepare the food since Monday,” she told the New Straits Times.

Wasanthee said that Thaipusam was an occasion for devotees to take part in “fasting and penance”.

“The food distribution is also about food for the soul, rather than just food for the body,” she said.

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