GEORGETOWN, MALAYSIA, January 27, 2023 (New Straits Times): After two years of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 1.5 million people are expected at the three-day Thaipusam celebration in Penang from Feb 4 to 6. Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) deputy chairman Datuk Seri P. Kuvenaraju said the state could look forward to a grand celebration this time around. “Many people may not have been able to fulfill their vows during the pandemic period. So we are expecting a larger crowd this year. “We want to assure all devotees that they can come and fulfill their religious obligations without any worry. We have taken all the necessary measures,” he told newsmen when met at the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Devastanam Temple in Jalan Air Terjun here today.

Besides locals, devotees from as far as Singapore, Jakarta and London are also expected to join in the celebration. About 30,000 kavadi bearers are expected and hundreds of thousands of paal kudam (milk pot) bearers. A total of 120 panthal (makeshift stalls) are expected to line the 1.25 mile stretch from Jalan Macalister to the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Devastanam Temple. Another 30 panthals will be sited along the chariot routes. The golden chariot will set out from its temple in Queens Street at 6am on Feb 4th. It will be followed by the silver chariot. The chariots will return to their respective temples at 6pm on Feb 6th. This year will be the 237th year Thaipusam is being celebrated at this temple. Thaipusam commemorates the day when, according to Hindu belief, the Goddess Pavarthi gave Lord Muruga a lance to slay demons.