Floating chariot festival returns after two years

All lit up: Devotees wading through sea water as they release their floats into the sea during the annual Teppa Thirunal in Teluk Bahang in George Town. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

BALIK PULAU: The streets in Teluk Bahang took on a carnival atmosphere following the return of the “Teppa Thirunal” (floating chariot festival) after two years.

Some 20,000 devotees thronged the Sri Singamugha Kaliamman Temple in colourful attire before sending off brightly lit floats of various shapes and sizes into the sea.

The 126-year-old temple was celebrating the deity of Sri Singhamugha Kaliamman, which was taken to sea in a raft at around 8pm.

The raft was decorated with lights and glittering paraphernalia and accompanied by mini floats made of paper and polystyrene that were released into the sea.

Temple committee chairman A. Kanapathy said besides the locals, many visitors had come from other states and as far as neighbouring Singapore and Thailand.

The festival, one of its kind, was halted for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Devotee M. Keerthiswary, 33, said the celebration was like Thaipusam, and she was awed by all the beautiful floats that were moving at sea.

“We have heard of the celebration and are happy to have witnessed the festival,” said the Johor lass, who was putting up at a nearby hotel.

Penang local government committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said the state government would allocate RM50,000 for the temple’s renovation.

“The state will always support all religious festivals, and in this case, this event is a boost to domestic tourism,” he said.

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