POLITICAL THAIPUSAM IN PENANG, EVEN LORD MURUGAN’S CHARIOTS NOT SPARED: WILL DEVOTEES SUPPORT DAP’S GOLD CHARIOT OR MIC’S SILVER CARRIAGE?

GEORGE TOWN – Two chariots operated by rival groups will make their Thaipusam journey from Little India to temples in Jalan Kebun Bunga for the first time.

The golden chariot carrying the vel (spear of Lord Muruga) by the Penang Hindu Endowment Board will make its maiden journey from Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street to Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple at 5am today.

About 90 minutes later, the silver chariot with the statue of Lord Muruga, consecrated in 1854, will begin its journey from the Chettiar-owned Kovil Veedu in Penang Street to Nattukotai Chettiar Temple.
The hilltop temple and Nattukotai Chettiar Temple are within 200m of each other.

The chariots will take about 17 hours to reach their respective destinations even though the distance is only 6.5km.

The question on everyone’s mind is which of the chariots will be better received by devotees, especially the Chinese community which breaks the most number of coconuts each year.

Board chairman Dr P. Ramasamy, who is Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, has been spewing vitriol against the Chettiars for not being transparent on donations received during Thaipusam.


Nattukotai Chettiar Temple trustee member Dr K.R. Palaniappan inspects the silver chariot at the Chettiar-owned Kovil Veedu building in Penang Street.Photo: The Star

To break the monopoly of the silver chariot, which has been operating for 162 years, Dr Ramasamy introduced the golden chariot with the backing of the state government, which has caused a split among devotees, the Tamil community in particular.

The religious procession has also turned political since the golden chariot is supported by the DAP, while the silver chariot has the support of the MIC.

Supporters on both sides have turned to social media to appeal to devotees to offer prayers and offerings to their particular chariot.

Board executive director M. Ramachandran and Nattukotai Chettiar temple trustee Dr A. Narayanan said they would leave the choice to the devotees.

Both chariots and processions are for Lord Muruga, they said.

Ramachandran hoped that the whole event would be a great success while Dr Narayanan said devotees were most welcome to give their offerings to Lord Muruga on the silver chariot because this has been the practice all these years.

Devotees could also witness the golden chariot’s journey through live streaming, by going to the Facebook page of the Penang Hindu Endowment Board or Dr Ramasamy’s from 4.30am today.

ANN

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