CHIEF Minister Chow Kon Yeow spent about two hours visiting various ‘thaneer panthal’ (refreshment stalls) during a Thaipusam walkabout in Western Road today.
He was accompanied by Penang Hindu Endowments Board (PHEB) chairman Prof P. Ramasamy (who is also the state Deputy Chief Minister II), Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai, assemblymen M. Satees (Bagan Dalam), Teh Lai Heng (Komtar), Lim Siew Khim (Sungai Pinang), Ong Ah Teong (Batu Lancang), Chris Lee Chun Kit (Pulau Tikus), and PHEB members.
Later, he was joined by Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh and Gurmeet Kaur, the wife of the late Karpal Singh, when Chow and his entourage passed by their house in Western Road.
After his walkabout, Chow told reporters that he hoped the three-day Thaipusam festival would be conducted peacefully and smoothly.
“I hope the Thaipusam festival will be celebrated in peace and harmony, and that all participants will be responsible to ensure it is smoothly organised,” Chow said.
“I want to thank the religious bodies, corporate sector, individuals, government agencies and temple committees for preparing for this festival, which I believe can attract about 1 million people.
“I also hope that with the new Malaysia Baru spirit, this event will be celebrated with happiness.”
Thanneermalai Shree Balathandayuthapani Devasthanam (Waterfall Hilltop Temple) chairman Datuk R. Subramaniam thanked Chow for making his first visit.
“We value his presence and hope that the state government will give us better support so that we can do our best to hold a bigger one to serve the devotees and tourists,” Subramaniam said.
Chow and his party stopped at more than 20 refreshment stalls during the walkabout. At each stop, the stall operators honoured Chow, Ramasamy, Wong and the assemblymen by garlanding them as well as placing silk cloths over their shoulders.
Earlier in the morning, the golden chariot, which is the official chariot of PHEB, left the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street at about 6.30am on Sunday (Jan 20) while the silver chariot, operated by the chettiars, started off from Kovil Temple in Penang Street at 8am.
The golden chariot and silver chariot are expected to reach the Waterfall Hilltop Temple and Nattukotai Chettiar Temple respectively around midnight.
A lot of devotees were seen carrying atta (big) kavadi, paal (mini) kavadi and paal kudam (milk pot) to fulfil their vows or seek blessings.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Alissala Thian
Video by Law Suun Ting