GEORGE TOWN: Thousands lined the path to the Waterfall Hilltop Hindu Temple and the Nattukotai Chettiar Temple here to mark the annual Thaipusam festival which has become a major religious and tourism event in Penang. A huge crowd gathered around the route between the waterfalls and the two major Hindu temples in George Town. Devotees began marching towards the holy site after both Golden and Silver Chariots had arrived safely from their respective temples around midnight. There was a visible police presence as some 1,500 personnel were deployed to maintain security and safety. Penang police chief Comm Datuk A. Thaiveegan was present throughout the proceedings to witness first-hand the security aspects of the festival. Initially, there were concerns that the presence of two chariots may cause some disturbances but Penang Hindu Sangam Association deputy president P. Murugiah said the community here has come to accept it as part of the festivities. As long as the chariots do not disrupt the path of the other, it is considered acceptable, said Murugiah. This year, the festivities would be different due to the lunar eclipse which was expected to occur around 7pm. The main altar in both temples and the deities would be closed as a mark of respect to the unique occurrence from 6.30pm, said Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy. It was learnt that some devotees paid their penance earlier this year to avoid having to rush due to the eclipse.