Penang Nattukottai Chettiar’s Thaipusam Festival
This Hindu festival is always celebrated in January or February annually, during
the full moon of the 10th lunar month in the Hindu calendar.
Thaipusam commemorates, in epic proportions, the triumph of good over evil, the
birthday of Lord Murugan and his triumph over the evil demon Soorapadman. Annually,
thousands of visitors and devotees throng the island to witness this spectacle.
In a show of faith and devotion, Hindus (including quite a few foreigners), in a
trance, carry magnificent kavadis, decorated with peacock feathers, bearing pots
of jaggery, as offerings to Lord Murugan.
The three-day event includes a silver chariot procession when the golden statue
of Lord Murugan makes its way from a temple in the George Town heritage enclave
to the Chettiar temple in Waterfall Road. As the chariot procession progresses along
the streets, devotees smash hundreds and thousands of coconuts as offering and to
give thanks to the Lord Murugan.
Along Waterfall Road, stalls, line the street, selling everything from souvenirs
and prayer paraphernalia to Indian sweet meats, drinks and snacks. This Hindu festival
comes alive in a carnival-like atmosphere with chanting and music – an experience
like no other!
Before the actual Thaipusam celebrations begin, preparatory work is done
in the following order:
1) Thirukarthigai which falls on the Full Moon Day of the Tamil Month of
Karthigai is the day on which the Nagarathars' kavadis are registered at 138 Penang
Street also known as Kovil Veedu
2) 11 Days Special Abhishekam is held at the following temples in Penang
a. Kovil Veedu
b. Nattukottai Chettiars' Sivan Temple c. Queen Street Mariamman Temple d. Nattukottai
Chettiars' Thanneermalai Temple
3) 11th Day Procession of Sri Mariamman atop the Silver Horse (Velli Kudirai
Vahanam) from Queen Street Mariamman Temple to Penang Street Kovil Veedu and onto
Nattukottai Chettiars' Sivan Temple and back to Queen Street Mariamman Temple.
4) ‘Magamai’ contributions of the Members of the Nattukottai Nagarathar Temple
Trust are recorded to be received at an auspicious date later.
5) Muneeswara Pooja at the Waterfall Muneeswarar Temple
6) Muhoorthakkal ceremony at Nattukottai Chettiars' Thanneermalai Temple
7) 2 days before Thaipusam at Penang Street Kovil Veedu
a. Preparation of the Nagarathars Kavadi in the morning
b. Kavadi Pongal and Pooja in the evening
8) Day before Thaipusam
a. After the recital of the ‘Kattiyam’, the procession of the Silver Chariot with
Lord Thandayuthapani, accompanied by the Kavadis, starts from Kovil Veedu early
in the morning on its way to the Nattukottai Chettiars' Thanneermalai Temple.
b. The procession goes via the Nattukottai Chettiars' Sivan Temple and along the
route thousands and thousands of coconuts are broken as offering by the devotees
c. Lunch is provided by Chettiar volunteers at the Nattukottai Chettiars' Sivan
Temple for all including the Kavadi Bearers, volunteers and devotees.
9) Upon arrival of the Kavadis and Chariot (Late evening on the same day)
at the Nattukottai Chettiars' Thanneermalai Temple, Lord Thandayuthapani is brought
into the temple. The ‘Kattiyam’ is recited again. Maheswara Pooja is performed at
the temple the following day, following which the food is blessed and then it (Anna
Thanam) is served to the devotees.
10) Day of Thaipusam – Nattukottai Chettiars' Thanneermalai Temple
a. Morning Special Pooja is held at the temple and also performed for the Kavadis
which are kept in a Sacred Room in the temple
b. Nagarathar Paal-Kudam - Procession of the Paal-Kudams (literally milk pots) starts
from Natukottai Chettiars' Sivan Temple to the Nattukottai Chettiars' Thanneermalai
c. Nagarathar Thotti by devotees as a vow where infants and young kids (aged approximately
1 month to 5 years) are carried around the temple in circumambulation, in a cradle
usually made from a silk saree hung in a sling from 5 complete sugar cane plants,
repelete with the roots and the heads, held in a bundle.
d. Special Abishekam is held at the temple following which the Maheshwara Pooja
is performed and Anna Thanam is served for all, just like the previous day.
e. Government Dignitaries pay a visit to the temple in the evening and an official
reception is accorded along with traditional Cultural Performances. The dignitaries
are honoured in the traditional manner and a speech is delivered by Karvar/ Trustees.
High-Tea is served to all devotees. After the ‘Atta’ Kavadi leaves the temple, the
Ayalur Nagarathar Mandagappadi (out of town Nagarathars') procession inside the
temple starts accompanied by classical Nadhaswaram music. The Kattiyam is recited
at the end of the procession.
11) The Day after Thaipusam at Nattukottai Chettiars' Thanneermalai Temple
a. Speical Pooja at the temple
b. Kavadi Pongal
c. Kavadi Pooja
d. Nagarathar Kavadis go in procession from the Thanneermalai temple to the Muneeswarar
temple at Waterfall road and return to the Thanneermalai temple
e. Upon return of the Kavadis to the Thanneermalai temple, the Kattiyam is recited
and the Kavadis are proffered to the Lord Murugan.
f. Special Abishekam for Lord Thandayuthapani is held followed by Maheswara Pooja
performance followed by Anna thanam for all devotees. Sometime in the evening, all
the temple staff are given special coconut prasadam (kalanji). Following that, in
the evening after the recital of the Kattiyam, Lord Thandayuthapani is re-seated
on the Silver Chariot and the return procession begins from the temple and continues
towards the Penang Street Kovil Veedu through out the night, the way being bathed
by again thousands of coconuts being broken in offering, to cleanse the path.
12) Two Days after Thaipusam – Penang Street Kovil Veedu
a. Lord Thandayuthapani is relocated to His abode within the Kovil Veedu
b. The Kattiyam is recited
c. The silver Chariot is moved into its storage location in the morning
d. Paanakkam (Traditional sweetened cardamom flavoured drink) is served signifying
the end of the Thaipusam festival.