Hindu devotees, foreign tourists throng Penang to celebrate Thaipusam

GEORGE TOWN: After two years of celebrating Thaipusam on a small scale due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Hindu devotees as well as foreign tourists in Penang are going all out this year to commemorate the birthday of Lord Murugan.

In addition to the procession carrying the statue of Lord Murugan, devotees are cleansing themselves with the breaking of coconut ritual held at major roads in George Town, in Jalan Keramat and Jalan Kebun Bunga in preparation for the celebrations on Sunday (Feb 5).

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Devotees will carry various types of kavadi and paal koodam (milk offering) to the Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga to fulfil their vows and pay homage to Lord Murugan tomorrow.

A visitor, R. Sivarataman, 42, arrived here with his wife and two children from Langkawi, Kedah to celebrate Thaipusam with some of his family members from Kelantan.

“We are looking forward to celebrating Thaipusam this year and had booked our flight tickets here in December,” he told Bernama today.

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A fellow devotee who hails from Medan, Indonesia, Bhesaj, 38, said he visited Penang every year to celebrate Thaipusam before the pandemic as he loved the celebrations here which were much more jubilant than the celebrations back home.

He arrived in the state this morning then proceeded to take part in the golden chariot procession and broke coconuts to pay his vows.

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Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said a total of 1.5 million Hindu devotees was expected to throng the state for three days starting today to take part in prayer events and other rituals, adding that he hoped that Thaipusam would be celebrated with deep understanding and respect for each other in a harmonious atmosphere.

“The state government would like to invite all parties to take advantage of the Thaipusam celebrations by reaffirming our determination to improve and strengthen the spirit of unity for the continued progress and development of the state,” he said during a walkabout at Jalan Kebun Bunga, here.

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Meanwhile, Northeast district police chief ACP Soffian Santong when contacted said that today’s events went smoothly without any untoward incident.

Together with Penang police chief Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain, they conducted a motorcycle patrol around the city to monitor the procession of the golden and silver chariots.

The golden chariot procession began at 6am today from Lebuh Queen towards the Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthapani Devasthanam Temple and is expected to arrive by midnight, while the silver chariot procession began at 7am from the Nagarathar Kovil Vidu Temple, Lebuh Penang and is expected to reach the grounds of the Waterfall Temple by 1am or 2am. – Bernama