More than a million expected at 'Unity Thaipusam' celebration in Penang


Photos by CHAN BOON KAI and LIM BENG TATT

GEORGE TOWN: This year, more than one million people are expected to gather at the three-day Thaipusam celebration, as many will come from near and far to fulfil their vows.

Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) chairman RSN Rayer said this would be the "Unity Thaipusam" year, where both chariots come together to draw in the crowd.

"Thaipusam not only draws in the Hindu crowd but also the Chinese community and tourists.

"Many come to witness the celebration and take part in the prayers.

"This year, there will be 150 panthals set up here on the island, and we expect 3,000 to 4,000 kavadi bearers.

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"Many will be pulling chariots as well, and we expect there to be 30 to 40 of those chariots," he said during a press conference held at the Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga on Sunday (Jan 21).

Rayer said due to the large crowd that is expected to be there, devotees are urged to take extra care of themselves with the rising Covid-19 cases.

"Those in the high-risk group can fulfil their vows and prayers earlier, if possible, to avoid the large crowds.

"If they really cannot avoid it and need to do it on Thaipusam day, we advise them to put on their masks," he said.

Rayer said this year will be extra special as both the golden and silver chariots are expected to move closer together with about 1km between them.

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"We have held discussions with the Nattukottai Chettiar Temples committee and have agreed to come together this year.

"We hope both chariots can reach the respective temples at Jalan Air Terjun here by 11pm as in previous years the chariots have reached much later," he said.

In 2017, the dual chariot processions took to the streets here for the first time in 234 years to mark Thaipusam celebrations in the state.

In recent years, both chariots moved hours apart, causing a delay, with devotees waiting hours to catch a glimpse of each chariot.

Thaipusam falls on Thursday (Jan 25) this year, with the chariot processions being held on Wednesday (Jan 24) and Friday (Jan 26).

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Thaipusam , Penang , Gold , Silver , Chariots , RSN Rayer

   

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