DEVOTEES of Indian spiritual guru and saint Shridi Sai Baba carriedcopies of the guru’s biography wrapped in yellow cloth on their heads during a procession in Penang.
The Shridi Sai Baba Cultural Festival and chariot procession, which was held on Christmas Day, attracted more than 6,000 devotees and visitors to the one-day event at the guru’s centre in Queen Street.
The centre’s northern region coordinator K. Shiva Kurup said poojas (prayers) were held in the morning and devotees carried paalkudam (milk pots), while a grand chariotprocession was held in the evening.
“This is the sixth year we are celebrating the festival and it’s definitely a bigger crowd compared to about 4,000 devotees last year,” he said.
The chariot procession began from the centre at 7pm and made its way through the streets of Little India.
The three-hour procession sawdevotees offering prayers to the idol of Shridi Baba, with curious onlookers and tourists joining in.
“The centre has been a hive of activity for weeks as we anticipated more devotees would be carrying paalkudam and performing the anathanam (offerings),” said Shiva.
He said decorations for the chariot, were handled by selected devotees who were well-versed with the religious and cultural aspects of the festival.
“We do not want to lose the essence of the celebration, which is to propagate the teachings of Shridi Baba.
“Rather that the festival being a grand celebration or tourist attraction, we wanted to share and spread Baba’s teachings,” Shiva added.
More than 500 devotees startedcarrying the paalkudam at 6am on the day from the Queen Street Maha Mariamman Temple to the centre, which is about 100m away.
Once inside the centre, the milk pot carriers poured the milk at the feet of the Shridi Baba’s idol.
The festival also saw a lion dance and bhangra performances to depict the unity in the celebrations among various races.
A religious talk was also part of the day’s events, with devotees and visitors being served vegetarian lunch.