Thaipusam in Penang a splendid occasion

The 2013 Thaipusam festive celebrations in Penang was grand and well organised by the Penang Hindu Endowment Board.

There was an increase in devotees and tourists to Penang.

The North South Expressway was also heavy with many people from Kuala Lumpur heading to Penang for Thaipusam on the eve of Jan 26.

This was also because many had come to get blessings from Lord Murugan and visit the new Arulmigu Bala Thandayuthapani Temple - the largest Murugan temple in South-East Asia.

The Penang Endowment Board played a very significant role in this year's celebrations.

The Penang Endowment Board headed by Prof P Ramasamy and the temple headed by its chairperson, Kuvenaraju, contributed with great efforts in the making these celebrations a success.

The 513 steps up are well carved and wide, for older citizens to take a break and rest on their way up to the temple.

The milk offerings by devotees was also well organised this year as they didn't have to stand very long in the queue. With the new system, devotees get to see the the Lord Murugan deity from afar and there is ample place to rest for those who have fulfilled their vows to Lord Murugan.

There are certain areas which the PHEB still need to improve such as the open area behind the Gottlieb Road Temple where devotees gather to start their prayers to the Waterfall Temple.

They need to clear the area for other devotees, otherwise the prayer offerings are all left in the open area, thus taking up space, and other devotees are unable to start their prayers.

In the Thaipusam annual walk, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng along with his Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Ramasamy with other state reps, made their way along Western Road stopping at the thaneer pantals up to the Waterfall Ganesha temple.

The CM's yearly walk has become a much awaited event by devotees and thaneer pantal operators where they garland the CM and the state reps.

As Thaipusam has become known worldwide, the billboards featuring the chief minister and the Indian reps of the Penang government was put up outside the temple compound to welcome all who came, from devotees, to onlookers, to tourists who came from all over the world.

Apart from the Hindu devotees, the celebrations were joined by Chinese and as well as foreigners who came all the way to fulfill their vows.

To set the right ambience, thaneer pantal operators were given guidelines to strictly only play devotional songs at their respective thaneer panthals.

The police contingent headed by Superintendent Batumalai had worked continuously for more than 24 hours.

The police volunteer reserve squads also displayed great efficiency in crowd control and security.

The police presence this year was round-the-clock and did a great job in ensuring there was no alcohol consumed by kavadi followers or any untoward events.

The atmosphere this year showed that the police did not compromise on security and safety of the devotees and visitors during the three days of celebrations.

The Customs team was also there to spot anyone consuming alcohol.

The police and Customs should be commended for their great efforts to make this year's celebrations a great event despite a few minor incidents.

The MPPP and other enforcement departs who were involved the cleaning up of the coconuts and the roads did an excellent job to keep the roads cleans at all times.

I hope the Penang state government and Hindu Endowment Board will be able to establish a light train service as many old citizens were unable to walk up the 513 steps and many had waited at the Ganesha Temple waiting for the family members who walked up to offer their vows to Lord Murugan.