THE annual Chitraparuvam Festival, also known as mini Thaipusam, started at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street, Penang, with a chariot procession.
More than 600 devotees joined in the prayers at the temple at about 6.30pm on Wednesday before the statue of Lord Muruga was placed on the elaborately decorated wooden chariot at 7.15pm.
Hundreds of devotees made offerings of fruits, flowers and coconuts.
They also smashed coconuts before the chariot pulled by two bulls left the temple at 7.45pm.
The chariot made its journey past Chulia Street, Datuk Keramat Road and Kebun Bunga Road. Its destination is the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple in Kebun Bunga Road.
Hindu Mahajana Sangam chairman M. Neelamegam said the chariot would leave the hilltop temple for its return journey at 6.30pm today.
It is expected to reach the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street at 7am tomorrow.
On the mainland, the Penang Hindu Endowment Board and the Sri Selva Vinayagar Hindu Paripalana Devasthanam’s management comittee held a kodiyatram (flag-raising ceremony) at the temple in Jalan Besar, Prai, to start the four-day Chitra Pournami festival.
The board’s executive director M. Ramachandran said the kodiyatram was followed by a special pooja (prayer).
The ceremony was held on Wednesday evening.
Devotees also carried paal kudam (milk pots) and kavadis.
The silver chariot procession carrying Lord Muruga will be held today at 4.30pm.
It will make its way around Prai before returning to the temple after midnight.
A ‘grease pole’ competition will be held for youths at the temple compound at 4pm tomorrow while a cultural show will also held at 7.30pm.