PENANG: Five elephants made their debut at the Thaipusam celebrations here making this year's festival even more meaningful.
Devotees were seen bowing their heads before the elephants at the carpark of the Penang Municipal Park to seek blessings from Lord Ganesh often referred to as the Hindu Elephant God.
The one bull and four cow elephants were brought in from Thailand by NS Cempaka Resources, a Negri Sembilan-based company that organised elephant shows.
Company manager Taeng said the elephants, aged from six to 13 years, arrived in Penang on Thursday.
“This is the first time that my company has brought in elephants for the Thaipusam celebrations in Penang,” he said yesterday.
Apart from seeking blessings, devotees were allowed to feed, ride or take photographs with the animals.
For good luck, devotees could also crawl under the elephants or allow the animals to sprinkle water on them.
Fees ranging from RM2 to RM10 are charged for each activity.
Waterfall Hilltop Temple committee chairman A. Chandra Kanthan said part of the proceeds from this would be donated to the temple's building fund.
“We need to raise about RM5mil to build a new temple, about 20m above the existing hilltop temple,” he said.
So far about RM500,000 had been collected, he said.
“The elephants add more excitement to this year's Thaipusam celebrations as devotees get to receive blessing from the sacred animals which are often found in Hindu temples in India,” he said.
Chandra Kanthan said an elephant would garland Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon during the Thaipusam celebrations today.
Devotee M. Saravanan, 33, a factory supervisor from Ipoh, brought along his three-year-old son Thanish to be blessed by one of the elephants.
“It's like receiving blessings from Lord Ganesh,” he said.
“It is a good idea to bring in the elephants as the children will also have fun and enjoy themselves riding the animals,” he added.