GEORGE TOWN: The sweet smell of incense sticks filled the air while Hindu devotional songs were played as the 120-year-old silver chariot, bearing the statue of Lord Muruga, made its way to the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Air Terjun in conjunction with Thaipusam.
The chariot, pulled by two cows, started its annual 7.2km journey from the Kovil Veedu (Temple House) in Penang Street at 6.55am yesterday, accompanied by some 30 peacock kavadi bearers.
The grand affair saw thousands of devotees line the streets to make offerings to Lord Muruga as the chariot inched its way through the streets.
The devotees, clad in traditional costumes, squeezed their way through the crowd with trays of offerings for Lord Muruga, seeking blessings.
Devotees also smashed coconuts in the path of the chariot along Jalan Datuk Keramat.
Spotted among the huge crowd in Jalan Magazine were J. Pravin Raj, 31, and his wife S. Nivashini, 29, who came with their three-month-old baby boy P. Shaamanth Aksharaan.
Nivashini, who got married in Kuala Lumpur two years ago, was overjoyed to be back in her hometown.
“When I was a baby, my parents brought me here to get blessings, and now I’m doing the same for my son.”
The couple then went to the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hill-top Temple to have the baby’s head shaved.
Joining the devotees during the procession was a large multi-cultural crowd as well as foreigners.
Norwegian students Cristhine Endrerud, Ida Hedvig Gjesvold and Lin-Mari Foss, all aged 23, described the event as colourful and interesting with a friendly crowd.
Thaneer panthal (refreshment stalls) were also set up by shops, temples, hotels and malls, offering free food, drinks and fruits along the chariot route.
Ivory Properties Group Bhd employees took a break from their work to engage in a charitable cause, which was to offer some 2,000 packets of vegetarian food and drinks to the devotees at their thaneer panthal in front of Penang Times Square in Jalan Datuk Keramat.
Today, tens of thousands of devotees are expected to climb up the 513-step stairs to the hilltop temple and fulfil their vows.
The 9km route back for the chariot starts from the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple at 6pm tomorrow before arriving at the Kovil Veedu at about 8.30am on Sunday.
Thaipusam: A journey of faith
Expect a smoother Thaipusam celebration this year
1600 cops to keep the peace in Batu Caves