GEORGE TOWN: A new golden chariot will take to the streets for this year’s Thaipusam – and it’s bigger and brighter.
The Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB)’s new golden chariot stands at 6.4m tall and 5m wide.
PHEB executive director Datuk M. Ramachandran said the RM3mil two-tonne golden chariot would carry the “Vel” (spear) during its maiden journey this year.
“This one is bigger than the previous one which was 4.3m tall and 4.3m wide, and weighing 1.6 tonnes,” he said yesterday.
Ramachandran said the new chariot would also be pulled by devotees with a pushback tug on standby if needed.
PHEB chairman Dr P. Ramasamy said it was the wish of the devotees to have a bigger golden chariot, and the previous one will now be stationed at the temple.
“The new one was refurbished and given to us by a devotee for free and we decided to use it this year,” he said.
The golden chariot will take part in the procession together with the silver chariot which is bigger at seven tonnes.
Owned by the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Waterfall Road, the silver chariot is 7.3m tall and carries the statue of Lord Muruga.
Penang Thaipusam has seen two chariots during the procession since 2017 when PHEB decided to roll out the golden chariot, breaking a 164-year tradition of the silver chariot as the only chariot during the festival.
Both the golden and silver chariots are set to start their journey about 60 minutes apart from the Maha Sri Mariamman Temple in Queen Street and Kovil Veedu in Penang Street to the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple in Waterfall Road in the morning on Jan 20.
Meanwhile, the Penang Hindu Association has urged manufacturers of religious items to cease using holy pictures of Hindu deities on the label of their products.
Its president P. Murugiah said the manufacturers should immediately stop using pictures of Hindu deities to promote their products as it would offend Hindus if the packages were thrown into the dustbins.
“There have been incidents where the holy images were unknowingly stepped on by people.
“I fear with Thaipusam around the corner, these items will flood the market again.
“We also urge the government to take action against the local traders who manufacture and distribute such items,” he said.