Thaipusam to draw thousands of devotees to Penang

GEORGE TOWN: Preparations for the Thaipusam festival which falls on Jan 31, are underway as scheduled, with thousands of Hindu devotees from across the country expected to flood the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga here.

Temple chairman Datuk R. Subramaniam said there would be a difference in the celebration this year as the temple curtain will close early on Thaipusam day, from 6pm to 6am the next morning due to the lunar eclipse.

"Devotees wishing to perform vows are required to fulfil them before 6pm," he told a press conference, here today.

He said 160 'thanir panthal' (refreshment stalls) including sales outlets were expected to operate on the day, as compared to 150 last year, while 400 colourful 'kavadis' of various sizes would be carried by Hindu devotees.

He said as many as 6,800 devotees would shave their head, adding that this year, there would be no fireworks, sharp equipment or hard drinks at the 'thanir panthal'.

Subramaniam said several roads would be closed in stages in conjunction with the Thaipusam celebration, including the stretch from Jalan Western to Jalan Kebun Bunga; and the junction of Jalan Macalister up to the road leading to Jalan Air Terjun.

He said the proposed alternative roads were Jalan Scott and Jalan Air Rajah but the public were not allowed to park there as they were the only access roads.

The Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple Committee would also enhance security by placing 1,300 personnel to closely monitor the route and the Thaipusam celebration area. — Bernama