Over a million Hindu devotees throng hilltop temple on Thaipusam

PRAYERFUL: Over a million Hindus pay their homage and fulfil vows to Lord Muruga

GEORGE TOWN: IT was a sea of yellow and orange ascending the 512-step Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple yesterday as over a million devotees from all over the world celebrated Thaipusam here, the festival of thanksgiving and repentance.

Devotees were seen carrying clay or brass pots filled with milk, while they climbed up what was considered the largest Lord Murugan temple outside India.

People were also seen thronging the nearby Nagarathar Naatukkottai Chettiar temple which is located 200m away.

Thousands of kavadi bearers were seen dancing in rhythmic moves in their pierced bodies while some were seen rolling sideways in a ceremonial worship of Lord Muruga.

The kavadi, some weighing over 100kg, are made of wood or steel, and are balanced on the shoulders of the devotee, decorated with flowers and peacock feathers.

All roads leading to the temples in Jalan Kebun Bunga were filled with people since the break of dawn, in a show of lively atmosphere and thanksgiving.

Foreign tourists also joined in the festivities, snapping pictures while witnessing the rituals up close.

A devotee, G. Muthaya, was spotted carrying a mammoth 125kg kavadi at Jalan Kebun Bunga, with his family keeping watch.

The 62-year-old, former staff of New Straits Times circulation department, carried the kavadi to the hilltop and prayed for his health.

Meanwhile, the 120-year-old silver chariot with the statue of Lord Muruga arrived at the Nagarathar Naatukkottai Chettiar Temple near the hilltop temple at midnight yesterday.

The chariot, which left its kovil veedu or home base in Lebuh Penang at 6.30am on Thursday was followed by thousands of people, barefoot, tailing the chariot from town.

At 6.30pm today, the chariot will make its way back to the kovil veedu, observing a culture steeped in tradition dating more than a century.

Thaipusam in Penang is comparable to Batu Caves in Selangor in grandeur, with almost all Penangites of all walks of lives joining in the festivities.

Source: New Straits Times