There was a marked difference in this year’s chariot procession to Batu Caves this year’s Thaipusam. Instead of only the 7.3-metre high silver chariot bearing Lord Muruga and his consort’s Valli and Theivana making the journey to the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves, this year, they were accompanied by a 6.7-metre-high golden chariot carrying Lord Vinayagar.

The golden chariot, was specially made for the ‘Vinayagar Chathurthi’ festival last year at a cost of RM5 million, would be taken in the procession only this year.

The journey of the chariots from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Jalan HS Lee tonight was accompanied by thousands of Hindu devotees as well as witnessed by tourists.

Both the chariots are expected to reach Batu Caves tomorrow at 2pm and this will officially kick-off the 167th year Thaipusam festivities for this year.

Along the way, the chariots are expected stop at several points to receive and offer prayers to devotees.

The routes affected by the chariot’s procession will be Jalan Sultan, Jalan Pudu, Jalan Tun Perak, Lebuh Ampang, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Jalan Dang Wangi, Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Sri Amar. The procession would then go along the roads up to Jalan Tun Razak where the charity would make a U-turn in front of the fire and rescue station and go along Jalan Ipoh (Jalan Salleh), Jalan Perhentian, Jalan Ipoh, Jalan Ipoh Batu 5 and to the Sri Subramaniar Temple in Batu Caves

The chariots will make their return journey from Batu Caves at 4pm on Friday

Another marked difference this year from previous year’s celebrations is the first time in recent history where a lunar eclipse would take place on the same day as Thaipusam. The eclipse which will take place between 7.48 pm to 11.11 pm on Jan 31 will see the closure of all Hindu temples for the duration of the natural phenomenon.

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam chairman Tan Sri R. Nadarajah had said that religious ceremonies at the Sri Subramaniam Temple in Batu Caves on Thaipusam Day on Jan 31 would proceed even during the period of the eclipse due to the expected huge numbers of Hindu’s fulfilling their vows. As such the temple will conduct the special remedy prayers or ‘Parigara Pooja at 11.30 pm.

Thaipusam which takes place tomorrow is to commemorate the event where Lord Murugan received the sacred spear from his mother Goddess Parvati, to eliminate the evil demon, Soorapadman, and restore prosperity and human well-being.

Some 1.5 million Hindu devotees and tourists are expected to attend the Thaipusam celebration in Batu Caves this year.

Tourists and devotees are also expected to converge for Thaipusam celebrations at the Sri Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in Penang, Arul Subramaniar Temple in Ipoh, Perak and Johor.

During Thaipusam, Hindu devotees fulfill their vows by carrying well-decorated ‘kavadi’ bearing pots of milk as an offering to Lord Muruga.-NST

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