THE Thaipusam festival on Jan 31 is set to proceed in a more orderly manner this year after issues were ironed out between Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) and the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple.
PHEB chairman Dr P. Ramasamy gave assurance that the ‘teething problems’ of adding the golden chariot last year have been addressed.
He said both the golden and silver chariots will journey on Thaipusam eve and the third day two hours apart on the same route, just like last year, minus delays and confusion.
“The problems were greatly exaggerated. There were only minor hiccups last year and devotees and visitors can expect a smooth and incident-free chariot processions this year,” said Dr Ramasamy, who is also Deputy Chief Minister II at a press conference in Komtar.
Historical archives show that the Chettiar community have been holding the silver chariot procession for 126 years, while unofficial records reveal that they actually started with a wooden chariot 36 years earlier.
Last year, PHEB which is under the state government, brought out its golden chariot.
The annual 13 to 14-hour procession over the 6.5km route became 22 hours last year.
Dr Ramasamy said PHEB and Nattukotai Chettiar Temple representatives had a meeting with George Town’s senior police officers on Monday.
“The police are helpful with the security arrangements and we have a consensus on the timing of the procession for both chariots,” he added.
Waterfall Hilltop Temple chairman Datuk R.Subramaniam, who was present, said the golden chariot will move from Arulmigu Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street at 5am on Jan 30 through Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Victoria, Jalan Prangin, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Dato Keramat, Jalan Utama and Jalan Kebun Bunga and reach the Waterfall Hilltop Temple by 11.30pm.
“The routes will be the same on the return journey. The golden chariot will leave the temple at 5pm on Feb 1 and end its journey early the following morning.”
A rare phenomena during Thaipusam this year, the total lunar eclipse called ‘blood moon’, will bring prayers and rites to a halt at 6pm on Thaipusam day.
The temple’s main altar will be closed and it will open again at 6am the following day.
“Devotees and kavadi bearers are advised to reach the temple before 6pm to fulfil their vows as there will be no prayers or poojas after 6pm,” said Subramaniam.
He added that 150 thaneer panthals (refreshment stalls) were registered for the festival and about 400 kavadi bearers and 30,000 paal kudam (milk pots) carriers are expected to fulfil their vows.
The Nattukotai Chettiar Temple Trustees will hold a press conference on their silver chariot procession on Monday.