GEORGE TOWN: Thaipusam celebrations are back in full force this year with thousands of devotees crowding streets in the city to accompany the chariot processions.
Procession of the golden chariot from Sri Maha Mariammam Temple in Lebuh Queen started at about 6.30am.
The chariot is expected to arrive at Arulmigu Sri Ganeshar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga by midnight.
The procession of the silver chariot from Nagarathar Kovil Veedu Temple in Lebuh Penang started over an hour later at about 7.50am and is expected to arrive at Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga around midnight.
Several roads, including Jalan Gottlieb, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Utama, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat and a section of Jalan Waterfall are closed to traffic for the procession.
Devotees in vibrant clothing who lined both sides of roads chanted "vel vel vetri "(victory) or vel vel Muruga (glory unto Muruga).
At some sections, traditional drummers beat on urumi melams (hour-glassed shaped drums), thavils (barrel-shaped drums), jaalras (clash cymbals) and thappus (round drums) to accompany devotees as they fulfill their vows.
The festival in Penang has featured two chariots – instead of one silver chariot – since 2017, breaking a 164-year tradition.
The silver chariot carries the statue of Lord Murugan while the golden chariot carries the vel (spear).