A crowd surrounding the chariot bearing the deity of Sri Singamuga Kaliamman during the festival at Teluk Bahang, Penang.
GEORGE TOWN: The sea off Teluk Bahang was flickering with thousands of lights as devotees, who attended the Masi Magam Theppe Thiruvilla (floating chariot) festival, released different shape of floats into the sea.
Some 70,000 devotees attended the festival yesterday which is held annually by the 118-year-old Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple in Teluk Bahang.
The highlight of the festival was when the procession involving a chariot bearing the deity Sri Singamuga Kaliamman was taken to the sea onboard a raft pulled by a trawler boat at about 7pm.
The raft, half the size of a badminton court, was gaily decorated with lights and glittering paraphernalia.
After venturing out to sea, the chariot returned to the shore at about 9.30pm.
While waiting for the return of the chariot, devotees were seen praying by the beach.
Temple secretary S. Ramanagaran said the festival was started by fishermen in 1896 to honour the deity, but due to lack of roads then, they decided to pull the chariot and set it adrift at sea.
He said the original purpose of the festival was for the fishermen to have a safe journey while at sea and for a good catch.
“However, it has now turned into an annual celebration with devotees coming here to pray and for their vows to be fulfilled,” he said when met at the temple during the celebration on Saturday night.
He said the temple is among the few in the country, which faces the sea.
However, he said the temple committee was saddened with the sales of floats made of polystyrene near the temple this year.
“We hope to create more awareness to get the public to use more environment-friendly materials to make the floats,” he said, adding that the temple committee hoped to hold a polystyrene-free festival next year.