PENANG: Some 600,000 devotees including those from Singapore, Germany, Medan in Indonesia and Britain, are expected to converge here for the three-day Thaipusam festival which begins this Saturday.
Queen Street Mariamman Temple and Penang Waterfall Hilltop Temple management committee chairman Datuk R. Rajasingam said this year's event would draw a bigger crowd as the first three days of the festival were not working days.
The 109-year-old silver chariot bearing Lord Muruga will leave the Kovil Veedu (Temple House) in Penang Street at 7am on Saturday and expected to arrive at the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple at Waterfall Road at 10pm the same day.
This year, devotees will carry 449 kavadis, 6,442 paal kodum (milk pots), 11,673 thengai archanai (coconut offerings) while 12,990 devotees will offer the paal abishegam (milk offerings). A total of 3,305 devotees will participate in the prathanai moodi (shaving their hair).
He said some 120 thaneer panthals (refreshment stalls) would be set up along the Waterfall Road, serving refreshments for devotees.
Rajasingam said this year traders would not be allowed to put up stalls along the road between the temple and the Meenatchi Sundraeswarar Temple to avoid over-crowding, as the road at the particular section is narrow.
He said the traders together with some 40 traders selling cooked food would instead be relocated to the car park area at Youth Park.
Rajasingam also said bongos, urumis and other loud musical instruments would not be allowed inside the temple premises except for the thavil (a traditional Indian drum used in religious festivals).
He urged all devotees fulfilling their vows to buy their archanai tickets at booths set up by the temple committee at the main entrance of the Hilltop temple.
Committee secretary R. Raj Shankar said devotees should help the temple committee by not dumping their kavadis in the temple vicinity after fulfilling their vows.
“The committee plans to recycle all plastic containers used by devotees,'' he added.
Shankar advised residents in the Waterfall Road area to get their resident car stickers at the Pulau Tikus and Jalan Patani police stations.