GEORGE TOWN, April 16 — Hindu devotees throng the Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthapani Devasthanam Temple (Hilltop Temple) as early as 5 am today to celebrate ‘Chithirai Pournami’ or Mini Thaipusam, in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Many devotees were seen carrying ‘paal kudam’ (milk offering) to the temple to fulfil their vows and there was one special kavadi that arrived around 10 am.

The kavadi carrier, P. Kumaravelu, 42, a Singaporean, said since 2007, his wife V. Reavathiy and family friends always come to Penang to celebrate Mini Thaipusam but due to the pandemic, they had stopped for about two years.

He said they had charted a bus from Singapore this year to come here to fulfil their vows after the reopening of both countries’ borders.

“All 20 of us had arrived here on Friday morning and as a kavadi carrier, I have made some early preparations. I feel satisfied to be able to carry kavadi and fulfil my vows here in Penang after two years,” he told Bernama when met at the temple here today.

Meanwhile, Hilltop Temple chairman, Datuk R. Subramaniam said devotees began to arrive at the temple as early as 5am and many of them only carry milk pots to fulfil their vows.

He said until 1 pm, he was made to understand that about 50,000 devotees has visited the temple and in accordance with the SOPs.

“This celebration will give us a glimpse of how the actual Thaipusam would be and how we should be preparing to handle the large crowd,” he said.

He said the celebration today was smooth and safe as devotees did not gather and left immediately after fulfilling their vows. — Bernama