i was at batu caves yesterday, on the eve of thaipusam.
for a grand total of seven seconds, i actually thought of getting up at two blinking a.m. to follow the chariot procession from central kl to batu caves. but the someone gave me a photo of how last year’s procession looked like, and so my biological clock triumphed over the nocturnal calls.
but i did get to speak with some people regarding the chariot, of which there is a number of things to learn about.
some 15-20 years ago, three chariots arrived in malaya from india. the chariots are make from wood and plated with silver. one was placed in penang, one in singabloddypore and the biggest graced kl.
every year, on the full moon night in the month of thai, the kl chariot carry the statues of the hindu god muruga and his two wives from the sri mahamariaman temple to batu caves. the chariot weighs in at five tonnes and has 700 light bulbs at 40 watts each powered by a mobile generator.
traditionally, the chariot is pulled by two bulls for the entire 10 hour walk. nowadays, the chariot is pulled along by the same vehicle that pulls aircrafts.
the crowd that walks with the chariot grows every year. it used to be by the hundreds. then the thousands. and now, by the tens of thousands. the midnight walk is not without its casualties. like the ocean of people at batu caves, every year, many people are trampled by the huge turnout. platoons of volunteers from the red cross and st john standby during the entire length of this festival.
the chariot goes back to the sri mahamariaman temple the day after thaipusam day through jalan ipoh, which will also see a smaller, yet still sizeable procession crowd.
now you know why so many roads are closed in kl the day before and the day after thaipusam.
i’m on my way to batu caves again. traffic jam, here i come!