Families fulfil their vows

Offerings at hand: Kok (middle) with her son and Lim waiting for the chariots at Jalan Magazine in George Town, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: Like other devotees, Shirley Kok turned up for the Thaipusam chariot procession to fulfil vows made.

She was accompanied by her three-year-old son Tian Siang and mother Lim Lay Geok, 70, to thank Lord Muruga during the procession on Jalan Magazine yesterday.

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Kok, 33, who sells dry ice, said her son was born prematurely in 2021.

“He was hospitalised for half a year. Doctors told me that he had a slim chance of survival,” she said.

Her son, she said, somehow recovered in early 2022.

“That same year, my mother fell and fractured her hip. Doctors told me that she might be bedridden,” she recounted.

Despite that, she said that her mother could eventually sit up though wheelchair bound.

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On both occasions, she sought blessings from Lord Muruga, she said.

Since then, Kok vowed to make offerings every Thaipusam.

Her family was among thousands of devotees who turned up to witness the golden and silver chariots making their way across the city.

As for businesswoman Quinnie Teoh, she provided noodles to be distributed for free to devotees.

“In the past, my family used to spend over RM1,000 each time to smash coconuts (a ritual for the occasion),” said Teoh, 43.

However, she said she stopped doing so nine years ago.

Instead, she uses the money to buy ingredients needed for a noodle dish prepared at a refreshment stall set up for the occasion, she added.

Factory director Soon Hock Lee, 55, showed that distance was not a problem to him to be a part of the celebration.

“I’m now working in Johor but I came back for Thaipusam,” said Soon, who has been witnessing the procession for the past 28 years.

“As usual, I pray for good health for the family,” he said.

This year, he returned with his family of five to Penang again for the procession.

Earlier yesterday, the golden and silver chariots departed for the procession across the city, a journey that is expected to take an entire day to reach their temples.

The golden chariot, which carries Lord Murugan’s vel (spear) left Sri Maha Mariammam Temple at Queen Street at 5.20am.

As for the silver chariot carrying the statue of Lord Muruga, it left Kovil Veedu (Temple House) at Penang Street about an hour later at 6.40am.

It followed closely behind the golden chariot on the same route.

Devotees 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 fulfilled their vows.

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