THOUSANDS of students gathered for the 11th Kalvi Yathirai at a Penang temple on Sunday with one purpose in mind.
They were there to reinforce their determination to do well in the UPSR, PMR, SPM and STPM examinations.
Accompanying them at the Arulmigu Sri Bala Thandayu-thapani temple were their parents providing them with moral support.
Dressed in traditional costumes – the boys in jippa, long pants and vesti and the girls in salwaar kameez and saree – they sought blessings from Lord Muruga.
It was the first time that the event organised by Sri Murugan Centre (SMC), a non-profit social welfare organisation, was held in Penang. It attracted more than 50,000 students and parents.
SMC which provides weekend classes to Indian students nationwide had organised the event at Batu Caves in Selangor for the past 10 years.
The students started their pilgrimage climbing 297 steps to the temple after the two-hour yaagam conducted by chief priest Swami Brahma-nanda Saraswati of Dyana Ashram, Lunas and six other priests.
They also poured holy water and flower metals from chembu (small vessels) on the idol of Lord Muruga.
Later, they attended a 15-minute motivation talk.
Year Six pupil Sooriyah Sambath, 12, from Ipoh, was there with her parents and two younger sisters.
The family is observing a vegetarian diet until his examination is over next month.
“A vegetarian diet will help give me a clear mind,'' said Sooriyah who aspires to be an accountant.
Mother Selva Rani Sambath, 45, plans to clean up the house altar on her return from the pilgrimage while father Sambath Suppiah, 45, wants to string mango leaves in front of the house in the hope that their daughter would do well in her examination.
Year Six student from Sungai Petani, Kumanan Mogan, 12, set out on the journey with his mother and some 100 people in three buses at 2am and reached Penang three hours later.
“I am happy to see so many friends in Penang and will definitely study hard to become a pilot like my elder brother,” said Kumanan.
SMC director Datuk Dr M. Thambirajah said the event was to mark the partnership forged among the students, their parents and SMC.
He said a study revealed that between 1982 and 1985, only 4,000 Indian students were admitted to universities.
“However, since SMC started conducting the pilgrimage event 10 years ago, we have more students entering local and overseas universities,” he said.
Also present were organising chairman and co-director L. Krishnan, co-director and Ca-meron Highlands MP S.K. Deva-many, temple committee chairman A. Chandra Kanthan and state executive councillor P.K. Subbaiyah.
Participants were also given free breakfast and lunch.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon who opened the event presented the Mother of the Year award to housewife V. Krishnamal, 61.