Chariot procession kicks off fest

MORE than 1,000 devotees chanted Om Sakti, Om Sakti as the chariot carrying the statue of Lord Subramaniam started on its 18km journey in Penang. 

Act of faith: A crowd accompanying the chariot during the procession.

The procession, which began at 7.30pm at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street on Tuesday, kicked off the three-day Chitrapournami festival in Penang. 

The procession moved along Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Victoria, Gat Lebuh Prangin, Jalan C.Y. Choy, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat, Jalan Utama and Jalan Kebun Bunga and reached the Arulmigu Bala Thandayuthapani Temple at Jalan Waterfall about 5am yesterday. 

M. Neelamegam, the chairman of the Hindu Mahajana Sangam, which organised the procession, said the festival had been organised annually for the last 76 years. 

“Chitrapournami is one of the main annual festivals organised by our sangam which was established in 1935,” he said.  

He also added that the waterfront workers upon their arrival in Penang from India in the early 18th century built the temple at Lebuh Queen. 

On the second day of the festival, devotees thronged the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani hilltop temple with many carrying the kavadi and pal kudam (milk pot) to fulfil their vows while others attended prayers at the temple. 

Annual ritual: Devotees breaking coconuts along the route.

The statue of Lord Subramaniam will remain at the temple until 6pm today when it will go on its return journey to the temple in Lebuh Queen. 

Pothu Bhajanai Kulu, a group who conducts free religious classes, was also with the chariot singing bajan (religious songs). 

Its chief T. Rama said he has been involved with the chariot procession over the last 20 years. 

Bruno Laveissiere, 31, a French lifeguard who was visiting Penang, said although he did not understand what was going on, he just followed it like others. “I wanted to follow it till the end to understand better,” he said. 

Lucia Rybarova, 25, from Austria, who is pursuing her Master‘s degree in Business Administration in Bangkok, said it was her first time seeing the chariot procession. 

“I was really excited to see the different colours,” she said.  

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