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June 19, 2024
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Golden, silver chariots embark on ‘Unity Thaipusam’ journey in Penang

GEORGE TOWN: The golden and silver chariots for Thaipusam have both departed one after the other for the long procession across the city, a journey that is expected to take an entire day to reach their destinations.

The golden chariot, which carries Lord Murugan’s vel (spear) left the Sri Maha Mariammam Temple at Queen Street at 5.20am Wednesday (Jan 25) and will make its way to Arulmigu Sri Bala Thandayuthapani Waterfall Hilltop Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga.

The silver chariot, carrying the statue of Lord Murugan, left the 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 and will end at Nattukotai Chettiar Temple.

Thousands of devotees crowded streets in the city to accompany the chariot processions.

Several roads, including Jalan Gottlieb, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Utama, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat and a section of Jalan Waterfall are closed to traffic for the procession.

Devotees in vibrant clothing lined both sides of the roads and chanted “vel vel vetri (victory)” or “vel vel Muruga (glory unto Muruga)”.

At some sections, traditional drummers beat on urumi melam (hour-glassed shaped drums), thavil (barrel-shaped drums), jaalra (clash cymbals) and thappu (round drums) to accompany devotees as they fulfil their vows.

The Thaipusam procession in Penang began in 1856, with only the silver chariot in use until 2017 when the golden chariot was introduced by the Penang Hindu Endowment Board.

Since 2017, both chariots have left the “Little India” area within an hour of each other, causing a major gridlock along the procession route, with each reaching its destination well past midnight.

After six years of acrimony, this year’s Thaipusam festival in Penang, dubbed the “Unity Thaipusam”, is supposed to be a unified one, with both the golden and silver chariot travelling together in a single procession.

For those trying to track the silver chariot on the day of the procession, visit chariot.byebyte.org.

The chariots will return to their respective temples on Jan 26.

Thaipusam commemorates the day when Lord Subramanya defeated the evil demon Soorapadman by using the vel (spear) given by Parvati.

This is a symbolic day for devotees – young and old – to fulfil their vows. On this day, thousands of Lord Murugan devotees perform special prayers, observing abstinence and penance to commemorate the day.

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