May 5, 2009 / 6:16 AM / 10 years ago

Malaysian "magic" boars a hit despite flu scare

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Thousands of Malaysian Hindus are seeking blessings from a group of wild boars believed to possess magical powers, shrugging off concerns about a global outbreak of “swine flu,” a local newspaper reported Monday.

The Sun reported a Hindu temple in the northwestern Malaysian state of Perak has been drawing a steady stream of thousands of visitors daily, eager to feed and touch dozens of wild boars.

The boars, which started to appear near the temple about a year ago, are believed by devotees to possess magical powers and can bring good luck.

Among the busloads of devotees and visitors from as far away as Singapore and Thailand are lottery punters hoping that the boars’ good luck will rub off on them.

“People come to offer food and then rub a four-digit number on a boar’s body to have better chances to strike it big,” the report quoted Ah Tong, a temple volunteer, as saying.

A visitor to the temple, Lai Chin Cheng, said she was not worried about any health threat from touching the boars, despite the outbreak of a new strain of flu that was initially thought to be associated with swine.

“People say what is happening here is a miracle, so it is okay,” said Lai.

Reporting by Razak Ahmad; Editing by Bill Tarrant

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