GEORGE TOWN: About a million people are expected to throng the Waterfall vicinity here to celebrate the four-day annual Thaipusam festival, the state’s biggest Hindu event of the year.
The Waterfall area is where several temples of Lord Muruga, the Nattukottai Chettiar community’s Sri Thandayuthabani Kovil and the Balathandayuthabani Kovil, are located.
The new hilltop temple, built at cost of RM10 million, is arguably the largest ornate Hindu temple outside India dedicated to Lord Muruga Perumaan.
For thousands of Hindus, this will be the first time they’ll get to see the new temple, which had its grand consecration ceremony last June.
The Silver Chariot procession will kick-start the festival tomorrow at 6am from Kovil Veedu in Penang Street and scheduled to reach the Thandayuthabani Kovil in Waterfall by midnight. The chariot’s return trip will be on Monday evening at 6pm and scheduled to reach home at Kovil Veedu on Tuesday 8am.
About 200 tanneer panthals (refreshment sheds) will be erected and thousands of coconuts will be smashed by devotees along the Silver Chariot procession route.
Hundreds of devotees will carry various forms of kavadi in penance or in gratitude to Lord Muruga Perumaan for vows fulfilled.
Among them will be K Kalaiselvan, 36, and V Prakash (photo below), 26, from Jalan Empat, Air Itam, who will be pulling a chariot-kavadi carrying a large 6ft Pillaiyaar (elephant god) statue made of fiber.
The Pillaiyaar statue was made for them by their neighbourhood ethnic Chinese friend, Teh Kok Hian, 66.
Devotion to Lord Muruga
The chariot-kavadi (called ratha kavadi) will also carry two other smaller statues of Hindu deities – Durgai Amman and Mathurai Veeran. Their ratha kavadi procession would start at 3pm on Sunday from Sri Maha Mariamman Alayam, near the City Stadium in Lorong Kulit. The cost to build and decorate the 12ft long, 8ft wide and 15ft high ratha kavadi is expected to cost Kalaiselvan and Prakash about RM6,000.
Another neighbourhood friend, K Saravanan, 40, was the main ‘architect’ of the kavadi, designing and building it.For technicians, Kalaiselvan and Prakash, their money and time were well spent to fulfill vows and express devotion to Lord Muruga.
Kalaiselvan had been pulling ratha kavadi with spikes hooked on his back during Thaipusam for past 11 years to fulfill a vow made by his mother.
A decade ago he was injured in an electricity switch board explosion in a factory in Prai.He suffered from a temporary loss of vision and was hospitalised, compelling his mother to seek divine help from Lord Muruga to save her son.After he had fully recovered from his injuries, Kalaiselvan, married with two children, started his annual ratha kavadi journey in 2002 to fulfill his mother’s vow.
Bachelor Prakash is joining Kalaiselvan only the second time in pulling the ratha kavadi.
He merely wants to show his gratitude to Lord Muruga for “guiding’ his family all these years after his father passed a decade ago.Both said they would continue to pay homage to Lord Muruga during Thaipusam for lifetime.