GEORGE TOWN: The three-day annual Thaipusam Festival came to a colourful end with the return processions of the golden and silver chariots to Little India here Sunday (Feb 9).
The golden chariot, which left the Arulmigu Sree Balathandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple at around 6pm Sunday is expected to reach the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street at 7am Monday (Feb 10).
Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, who is also Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) chairman, was spotted pulling the Golden Chariot with other devotees.
The silver chariot, which embarked on its return journey from the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple at 8pm Sunday is expected to arrive at the Kovil Veedu in Penang Street by 8am on Monday.
A throng of devotees will be following the chariots on the more than 12-hour journey meandering through many stretches in the heart of George Town.
As the chariots approach, devotees will also smash thousands of coconuts along the routes.
Many devotees swarmed both the chariots with offering trays, some holding up the processions by over an hour on several stretches.
Meanwhile, Waterfall Temple Committee chairman Datuk R. Subramaniam said there was a better crowd turnout compared to 2019.
“There were more crowds as the celebration fell on a weekend.
“We had around 1.2 million people, including devotees, visitors and tourists over the 10-day Thaipusam period.
“There were a lot of devotees and kavadis this year, the crowd was still coming in even at midnight, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Aspen Group continued its annual practice of setting up a thaneer panthal (refreshment stall) to give out free vegetarian food and hot drinks to devotees during the return journey of the chariots.
President and group CEO Datuk M. Murly said the group has been diligently putting up thaneer panthal since five years ago and wanted to make it extra special this year.
“To reflect our corporate image and identity, we decided to come up with something different and came up with the idea of what could be the first fully fibre thaneer panthal in Malaysia.
“The panthal was created based on an ancient Hindu temple, which consists of 10 Yali pillars and the top part, which is called the Raja Gopuram.
“The planning and construction of the panthal took almost two months from designing the structure and handcrafting the design before creating the moulding, structure setup, painting and completing the installation.
“The fibre structure was assembled to look like an ancient Hindu Temple in India, ” he said.
Murly added that the panthal is 4.57m tall and 10.37m wide.
“The panthal is inspired by the Raja Yali concept.
“Yali is a mythical creature seen in many South Indian temples, often sculpted onto the pillars.
“It can be portrayed as part lion, part elephant and part horse, and in similar shapes.
“It has sometimes been described as a leogryph, with some bird-like features, ” Murly explained.
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