The annual Thaipusam celebration in Penang, which includes the Golden Chariot and 'kavadi' procession, will resume on January 18 next year after a one-year break. All crowd-pulling events and festivities had been halted because of the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020.

According to Dr. P. Ramasamy, chairman of the Penang Hindu Endowments Board (PHEB), Thaipusam 2022 will be held under stringent restrictions and every aspect of the celebration will be covered by a thorough set of SOP (standard operating procedures).

All festival attendees are urged to follow the SOPs, which have been submitted by PHEB to the police and the health department for approval.

Talking about the SOPs, PHEB's executive director Datuk M. Ramachandran explained that the Golden chariot generally pauses every 100 to 200 metres for worshippers to make offerings. However, the board has decided to cut it down to three times in next year's procession.

“We still need to iron out the physical distancing part to avoid a huge crowd at each stop. We will also only allow groups of 10 people carrying the 'paal kudam' (milk pots) at any one time,” he said.

Ramachandran further added that the board will seek police guidance on traffic and crowd management along the routes of 'kavadi' procession and 'thanneer panthals' (refreshment stalls).

On the other hand, Nattukotai Chettiar temple, which runs the Silver Chariot, will also seek police's assistance and guidance on the SOPs.

“We have more than 100 years of experience in running the chariot procession. We will have a meeting with the police to discuss the SOP,” the managing trustee Dr A. Narayanan said.

Source: The Star
Photo Credit: Time Out