Vibrant spirit of Thaipusam has reawakened


Devotion: Volunteers hauling the golden chariot towards the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street, George Town, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB and CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: After two years of muted celebration, the lively Thaipusam spirit will be back starting today, with devotees lining the streets to witness the colourful processions.Penang’s signature golden and silver chariots will inch their way through various roads on the island before reaching their respective temples along Jalan Kebun Bunga.

Arulmigu Sree Balathandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple management chairman Datuk Seri P. Kuvenaraju said a special prayer would be held at 5.30am today before the vel (a divine spear) is mounted on the golden chariot.

“The vel has been kept at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street for the past 18 days, and there has been a special prayer for it daily,” he said.

Kuvenaraju said that at least 5,000 devotees are expected to witness the chariot leave the temple at 6am.

“The crowd might be larger as there will be those coming to see the silver chariot as well.

“With the celebration falling on a weekend, we expect a large crowd as the public has not taken part in this major festival in the past few years.

“We are not worried about the huge crowd, as these devotees will know how to move with the chariot and will not slow down our journey. We will stop at certain places for them to make their offerings,” he said.

Nattukotai Chettiar Temple workers decorating the silver chariot which will carry Lord Murugan.  Nattukotai Chettiar Temple workers decorating the silver chariot which will carry Lord Murugan.

After leaving the temple on Queen Street, the golden chariot will pass through Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Victoria, Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong, Jalan CY Choy, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat, Jalan Utama and Jalan Kebun Bunga before reaching the Arulmigu Sree Balathandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple.

As for the silver chariot, it will leave the Kovil Veedu (temple house) in Penang Street at 7am today.

Waterfall Nattukotai Chettiar Temple managing trustee Dr A. Narayanan said the temple is prepared to accommodate a larger crowd this year.

“With a larger crowd expected, there could be a one-hour delay in our journey to reach our temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga.

“The festivities have begun as prayers were said on the night before the chariot parade.

“We will hold a kavadi poojai (prayer) for the kavadis that will go in front of the silver chariot.

“There will also be a prayer at 5.30am before the silver chariot leaves the Kovil Veedu,” he said.

The silver chariot will leave the Kovil Veedu and make its way via the same route, reaching the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga around midnight or later, depending on the crowd.

On its return journey, the golden chariot will leave the Arulmigu Sree Balathandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple at 6pm on Monday, followed by the silver chariot which will leave the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga at 7pm.

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