GEORGE TOWN: He may be a strongman who once mesmerised the crowds with his feat – pulling vehicles with ropes tied to his hair and ears. But today G Devindiran’s hair is “clipped”.
For the 53-year-old strongman, or better known as “Sando” Dewa, no longer gets state-sponsored events and funds to show off his exploit.
He claimed the main reason he did not get to perform in government-sponsored events for the past six years was that he refused to betray his Hindu faith.
He alleged that several government officials have tried to brainwash him to abandon Hinduism and become a Muslim.
“They told me to convert so that I would be able to enjoy all the perks, sponsorships and steady supply of events to perform.
“When I declined, my association and I have lost on all these benefits for the past six years,” alleged Sando Dewa, who heads an Indian martial arts exponent club – the Selangor Sando Association (SSA).
Previously, he and SSA have received invitations to perform in at least six state-sponsored events, including funfairs, and they earned between RM8,000 and RM10,000 yearly.
“We believed there is a tacit boycott imposed on us after I rejected the idea of conversion,” he told FMT.
Sando Dewa from Kampung Baru, Sungai Buloh, holds four national records pulling loaded heavy vehicles with his hair and ears.
He learnt the skills in his late 20s from an Indian martial arts exponent in Gudang Estate, Rawang.
He made his public debut at age 31 in 1989 when he pulled a small three-ton lorry with 30 disabled children sitting in it with a rope tied to his hair.
But it took him nearly 10 years before he managed to get his name into the Malaysia Book of Records.
He pulled the heaviest loaded vehicle with a rope tied to his hair on New Year Day in 1998.
He pulled a 2.8-ton truck with four people sitting in it for 180 metres at the Sri Mathurai Veeran Kovil in Kuala Lumpur.
Next on April 6, 2000, he created another record by pulling a 110-ton fishing trawler for 20 metres with his hair. He achieved the feat at Pulau Pangkor jetty.
Then again on Aug 8, 2002, he pulled a 1,800kg lorry for 300 metres with his hair in Seremban to grab his third national record.
His fourth remarkable record was achieved when he pulled a 1,360kg van for 58 metres with a rope tied to his ears on May Day, 2005, in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
Married to S Santhi Devi, Sando Dewa has three children – son Jagatish, 20, and two daughters Shanmuga Priya, 17, and Premalatha, 15.
All his children have followed in his footsteps by pulling heavy vehicles with their facial features.
But only Shanmuga Priya has so far created a national record.
She got herself in the Malaysia Book of Records for pulling a 1,300kg van with her hair for the longest distance of 56.7 metres.
She achieved the feat in a Merdeka Day performance in 2002 in Port Dickson when she was only nine.
Sando Dewa has pleaded and wrote numerous appeal letters to many government leaders, including former and current Prime Ministers – Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Tun Razak, and former and current Youth and Sports Ministers Azalina Othman and Ahmad Shabery Chik.
But all his attempts were futile. There was not a single response from Putrajaya.
He has recently sought the help of Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy.
“He showed concerned about my plight and SSA financial constraints. I believe he will genuinely do his part to help us,” said Sando Dewa.