Thousands turn up for two chariot processions (Updated)

Thousands turned up before sunrise at the Sri Mariamman Temple in Lebuh Queen for the first procession for the Golden Chariot. — Sunpix by Masry Che Ani
Devotees flock around the Silver Chariot during the procession on Thaipusam eve. — Sunpix by Masry Che Ani

GEORGE TOWN: After some 200 years of having celebrated Thaipusam in Penang, this year sees a difference with two chariots - the golden and silver chariots - hitting the streets with throngs of devotees following them.

The Golden Chariot, managed by the Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB), left the Sri Mariamman Temple in Lebuh Queen about 5.15am with shouts of "Vel!", "Vel!" as devotees joined in the procession to the Arulmigu Sri Ganesha Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga here.

The Silver Chariot started its procession from Kovil Veedu in Lebuh Penang here. at 7.30am accompanied by peacock dancers and mini-kavadi bearers as it set out to the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga.

Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy and other Hindu assemblymen were among those who pulled the golden chariot.

The Golden Chariot reached its destination about 10pm while the Silver Chariot around midnight.

theSun spoke to several devotees to get their take on having two chariots and understandably some were for change and some had their reservations.

Chapati seller A. Marimuthu was one of those who was fine with having two chariots to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

He said Thaipusam was a religious festival and those celebrating should harbour no ill feelings.

“For me, I sincerely accept both chariots and hoped others would follow as well,” he added.

Factory worker S. Bala, 45, was also unperturbed over having processions for Golden and Silver Chariots as he offered prayers to both besides making offerings like fruits and incense.

Another devotee, K. Ravi, 44, said having more than one chariot to celebrate Thaipusam was special and furthermore the festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel "spear" so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.

Carmen Lau Yoke Chee, 48, who offered coconuts as offerings to pray for the well being of her family and her workplace said it was exciting to watch the two chariots hit the streets of Penang.

For housewife K. Lingeswari, 38, the two chariots only caused inconvenience to motorists besides causing traffic congestion.

“One chariot is more than enough,” she said.

Another devotee, who only wished to be known as Viji, 39, also concurred saying that one chariot was sufficient for the procession.

Her sentiment was echoed by Adaix, 36, who said having two chariots was unnecessary and she preferred the silver chariot which has been used all these years.