This year’s Thaipusam celebration is set to captivate over a million devotees from near and far across three days, as they gather to fulfill sacred vows in a grand and momentous spectacle.
This year marks the ‘Unity Thaipusam,’ as declared by Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) chairman RSN Rayer. In a remarkable convergence, both the golden chariot, which carries Lord Murugan’s vel (spear) and silver chariot, which carries the statue of Lord Murugan, will draw together a diverse crowd, not only from the Hindu community but also the enthusiastic participation of the Chinese community and tourists.
The celebration extends its magnetic appeal, attracting many to witness the grand spectacle and partake in the profound prayers. Anticipating a grandeur display, the island will host 150 panthals, with an expected turnout of 3,000 to 4,000 kavadi bearers.
As the excitement builds for the upcoming Thaipusam celebration, Rayer revealed that a notable feature of this year’s festivities will be the active participation of devotees pulling 30 to 40 chariots. Speaking at a press conference held at the Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga, he emphasized the need for caution amid the anticipated large crowd and rising Covid-19 cases.
Urging devotees, especially those in high-risk groups, to fulfill their vows and prayers earlier to avoid the peak crowds, Rayer emphasized the importance of mask-wearing for those who cannot avoid participating on Thaipusam day.
This year’s Thaipusam celebration promises an extraordinary spectacle as the golden and silver chariots are set to move in closer proximity, reducing the distance between them to about 1km. Following discussions with the Nattukottai Chettiar Temples committee, both chariots will converge, aiming to reach the respective temples at Jalan Air Terjun by 11pm.
This strategic alignment seeks to address past delays, where in previous years, the chariots arrived much later. Notably, 2017 marked the first time in 234 years that the dual chariot processions took to the streets, adding an extra layer of significance to this anticipated event.
Thaipusam falls on Thursday (Jan 25), with the chariot processions scheduled for Wednesday (Jan 24) and Friday (Jan 26).