Two fruits, double celebration

GEORGE TOWN: What do coconuts and mandarin oranges have in common?

Usually nothing much, beyond the fact that they are both fruits, but this weekend, both will take centre stage.

Coconuts will be broken and mandarin oranges will be tossed into the sea in the name of good luck this weekend as some 1.5 million people are expected to visit Penang for the double celebration of Chap Goh Meh and Thaipusam starting tomorrow until Monday.

While Hindus will smash hundreds of thousands of coconuts on the streets as the silver and golden chariots approach, Chinese lasses will toss mandarins into the sea.

For young women looking to secure better love prospects this year, Chap Goh Meh, the last day of the Lunar New Year celebration, is the day to make their wishes for Cupid to strike.

Reney Khor, 30, enjoys tossing mandarins yearly and ropes in all her other single friends for the event.

“We usually go to the Esplanade, write our messages on the mandarins and hurl them into the sea,” she said.

The marketing executive said that in the past, people would write their names and phone numbers, but now they scribble down their social media handles.

“We normally throw it for love and relationship. It is a nice activity to do with friends just for the fun of it,” she added.

The state-level Chap Goh Meh celebration will be held on Sunday and the Esplanade is set to be packed with tourists and locals flinging mandarin oranges into the sea.

Jamie Tan, 31, said she knows of people who believe in the practice for a chance to find love.

“Who knows? It might help people find that special someone,” said the senior marketing executive.

But leasing executive Fong Shin Yee, 24, is a non-believer.

“We’ll be tossing yee sang instead at a nice family dinner on Chap Goh Meh,” she said.

Meanwhile, Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthabanni Temple chairman Datuk Seri P. Kuvena Raju said a big turnout for Thaipusam is expected following the scaled-down celebrations of the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We expect to see devotees from Indonesia and Singapore participate in the procession. In the past, there were even devotees from England.”

The golden chariot procession from Lebuh Queen here will start at 6am tomorrow and arrive at Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthabanni Devastha-nam Temple at about midnight.

Nagarathar Thanduthabani Temple trustee Dr A. Narayanan said the procession of the silver chariot will begin from Nagarathar Kovil Vidu Temple in Lebuh Penang here at about 7am tomorrow and may reach the Waterfall Temple grounds at about 1am the next day.

Penang police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said several main roads in George Town will be closed in stages from 6.30am tomorrow to 7pm on Monday to make way for the procession of the silver and golden chariots.

The three-day festival will attract an estimated 1.5 million devotees.

“The procession of the chariots will take place as in previous years.

“On Monday, the golden chariot will leave Arulmigu Sree Balathandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple at 6pm, followed by the silver chariot leaving Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga at 7pm,” he said.

Comm Mohd Shuhaily said Jalan Kebun Bunga, Jalan Gottlieb (Lorong Air Terjun) and the intersection between Jalan Utama and Jalan Macalister will be completely closed during the procession for both chariots.

Meanwhile, Jalan Gottlieb, Jalan DS Ramanathan, Taman Gottlieb, Jalan Cantonment, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Brown, Jalan Utama, Jalan Nunn, Jalan Macalister, Jalan Sepoy Lines, Jalan Burma, Jalan Macalister, Jalan Scotland, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Lebuh Victoria and several other roads will be temporarily closed depending on the movement of the chariots.

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