PENANG: Thirty-five years ago, A. Veerapathiran was at a loss for words when he was requested by the Kovil Veedu (Temple House) management committee to polish the silver chariot for the Thaipusam festival.
Upon seeing the towering 7.3m high chariot, I was not sure how I was going to carry out the mammoth task.
But at that moment, I told myself that I had been given the opportunity to serve God and I would do my very best,'' recalled the 68-year-old grandfather.
Since then, there has been no looking back for Veerapathiran, an office assistant at De Silva (M) Sdn Bhd, who has been assisted by his sons V. Kajendrakumar, 34, and V. Sugumar, 33, in polishing the chariot near the Temple House in Penang Street the past few years.
Veerapathiran said he and his sons, who helped him after office hours, take between 21 days to a month to complete the polishing work. They use about 18 cans of an imported silver polish for the task.
Temple committee member Sivamaniam Chettiar @ Lakshmanan said Veerapathiran had been loyally offering his services without any charge throughout the years.
On this year's celebration, Sivamaniam said a special prayer for Lord Muruga would start at 5am on Saturday and the silver chariot bearing the deity would leave the Kovil Veedu on its journey to the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Waterfall Road between 6am to 7am.
It is expected to arrive at 10pm the same night.
He said the silver chariot bearing Lord Muruga, was brought by ship from India in 1894 and was basically made of wood and silver-plated.
It was commissioned by the Chettiar community here after it was decided that the previous wooden chariot would not last very long, he said.
Furthermore, as labour and materials were cheap in India then, the request was made for a silver chariot to be made in Karaikudi, India.''
Sivamaniam added that the chariot parts arrived in many shipments and were assembled locally.
It replaced the previous chariot which was subsequently sold'' to a Lord Muruga temple in Medan, Indonesia.