Hindu devotees release thousands of lotus-shaped floats

IT was a sea of flickering lights during the annual Masi Magam Theppa Thirunal (Floating Chariot Festival) at the Sri Singamuda Kaliamman Temple in Teluk Bahang where devotees released thousands of lotus-shaped floats into the sea.

More than 30,000 people thronged the temple on Wednesday night to witness the unique festival held behind the former Penang Mutiara Hotel.

Devotees prayed to Goddess Kali before sen-ding off the chariot bearing her image to the sea.

The well lit chariot was pulled by a trawler boat out to the sea at about 8pm and returned at 9.30pm with devotees waiting to receive blessings.

Devotees braved the small waves and walked in knee-deep water to ensure their lotus-shaped floats drift out to the sea.

They also chanted hymns and sang religious songs during the ceremony.

Simultaneously, several pooja (prayer) sessions were performed at the temple.

Temple treasurer K. Govindasamy said the 118-year-old temple had been celebrating the festival since 1965.

“In the early days, fishermen sought blessings for a bountiful catch and safe return from the sea.

“This practice has been carried out over the years although the fishing community is smaller now,” said Govindasamy.

He added that the devotees had attended a 10-day prayer at the temple.

The festival, he said, had gained recognition from devotees as far as Thailand and Singa-pore.

“Every year busloads of people travel to Teluk Bahang for this festival. They include people from Perak, Pahang and Johor,” he said.

The atmosphere was like one of a mini Thaipusam.

About 50 stalls were set up along the road selling ornaments, religious relics, saree and food. There was also a number of fortune tellers plying their trade there.

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