Hanson-Lafarge quarry prayers for protection

The Datuk

Hanson Quarry Products Sdn Bhd (Nilai) and their main operations contractors Lafarge, conducted an annual ritual at their quarry premises a few days ago.

Prayers were offered for safety at the quarry and for prosperity of the companies.

Keeper of the quarry.

The annual dedication was carried out at two ‘Tokongs’ strategically placed.

One faced the work site, for safety and protection, the other faced the entrance to the quarry for prosperity.

According to Lafarge operations manager Jeffrey Goh who led the rituals, prayers and offerings were made twice a month at these ‘Tokongs’.

Cultural fusion.

It was usually carried out during the new moon and full moon of each month.

Once a year, these rituals were conducted on a far grander scale.

Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY) saw not only what was inside the ‘Tokong’ but the clear and indisputable coming together of beliefs of different cultures and religions, a fusion so distinct and admirable.

The deity inside the Tokong is believed to be Malay and is known as the ‘Datuk’.

The Datuk was garbed in songkok and sarong, no less.  The ritual paraphernalia however were the same used by Buddhists.

There were offerings of yellow rice usually served at auspicious functions (nasi kunyit) and mutton curry.

Offered also were bananas, apples, oranges, soft drinks and Chinese tea. Seen also were prayer papers. Things you would easily find on Buddhist alters.

Placed there too was a cigar (cerut), the likes of which are relegated to the rural areas these days and supposedly an item greatly appreciated by Datuk.

According to Goh food offered to the Datuk would most certainly have to be halal.

No mantras were recited but the staff of different races and religions took turns to light joss sticks and say their own prayers before placing them in joss stick holders.

There was also a designated area outside the Tokong to place lighted joss sticks as offerings to the Heaven God for blessings from up above.

Sugumaran Kunjiraman offering joss sticks for prosperity.

On hand to partake of the annual ceremonies was Hanson Pre-mix manager Sugumaran Kunjiraman.

He was seen paying his respects to the Datuk, lighting joss sticks and bowing in Buddhist style.  He was also seen lighting joss sticks as offerings to the heavens above.

The quarry is situated in Nilai, at the foothills of Bukit Galla. According to Nilai Lafarge quarry Chief operations manager Andrew Kan, Bukit Galla has been gazetted by Negeri Sembilan state for quarrying activities for 60 years.

From left: Kan with Sugumaran, Goh and other workers at the quarry.

Operations thereat began in the early 1990s. Lafarge took over operations in Nilai from Sungei Way two years ago and has continued with the tradition which according to Goh is usually carried out at most quarries and construction sites.

Quarrying activities in the region were given a boost with the building of the KLIA.

It is believed, according to Kan, that the quarries at Bukit Galla would be able to meet the needs of KLIA2 and the new air force base to be built in Sendayan to replace the one closed in Sungei Besi.

The Hanson/Lafarge Quarry from a distance.

It would appear that prosperity is indeed being showered upon the quarry owners with the huge anticipated demand for quarry products within easy access and one wonders if the reverence practised diligently at these outposts are indeed significant signs of appeased deities.

CJMY was discouraged from taking close-up photographs of the quarry.

Photographer: Antony D’Cruz