Sri Singamuga Kaliamman is a seafaring goddess. Devotees all over Malaysia and Singapore will gather on the beach in Teluk Bahang as early as 6pm to witness and pay homage to the female deity.
Chandra and I were there last year to witness this festival together with over 20,000 people crowding the beach. The whole beach should look white with sand, right.
But on this day, all you could see is black stretch of land. This is the first time we saw the Teluk Bahang sandy beach filled with Hindus.
You practically see the whole stretch of beach filled up with people, all shapes and sizes, serious, it is not a joke.
Almost the roads leading to Hotel Mutiara were lined with buses from not only the local community but all over Malaysia and Singapore, we were told.
The traffic jam on that day is massive. You either drive up by 4pm and park in a good location or join in snail drive up. And if you are late, the ceremony begins by 7pm.
Hindu ladies in colorful saris, big pottus (red dot on their foreheads) holding tightly to their kids in one hand. And on the other hand offerings of incense, camphor, coconut, flowers and not forgetting the lanterns.
Some lanterns were home made but it is not a problem if you need one as the street vendors were having a field day announcing their lanterns for sales. To me it is like Thaipusam but done in a smaller scale.
On the street, vendors had make-shift stalls to sell their goods and food while waiting for the celebration to commence.
Indian stuffs like those you would see during Thaipusam Hindus clothing, saris, lungis and accessories were being scrutinized. Bargaining of prices were heard all over the stalls.
Most stalls had styrofoam dish-like candle tray in luminous colors to brighten up the sea waters. The devotees made wishes before setting the lanterns afloat during the temple's annual floating chariot festival. What a lovely sight.
Devotees sang devotional hymns and chanted Omm Omm Kaliammah in praise of the deity, whose loyal servant is the lion.
Rumors has it that sometimes she is seen walking along the shores of Teluk Bahang with the lion by her side. And fisherman never got lost before in this part of Penang.
Some even acclaimed that the 2002 Tsunami avoided Teluk Bahang due to her presence in the area.Sri Singamuga Kaliamman
Every year for the past 109 years, the Teluk Bahang Sri Singamuga Temple devotees carried the deity out to sea on a beautifully lighted Chariot.
Susila (Chandra's sister), Mrs Govind from Seremban were with us for this year floating chariot procession in Teluk Bahang. See the photos and the fun we had.
A beautifully decorated float, affixed with decorative bulbs, carried the statue of Lord Sri Singamuga Kaliamman and some of the temple's committee members for a ride into the sea to mark the start of the celebration.
As the sun set the deity, who is the patron saint of the fisherman was taken out on a float to bless the sea, tugged by a motor-boat.
The idol was decked out in garlands and carried on the shoulders of six men from the 104-year old Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple.
At about the same time, devotees waded into the water with their lanterns of various shapes, made their wishes and released the lanterns into the sea.
The candles sitting on the styrofoam is supposed to hold the candles as long as it can. Most devotees came to fulfill their vows to the female deity year after year.
And it seems the devotees get bigger every year. There are also some new devotees came to pray fervently for their prayers to be answered.
Whether to fulfill vows or to repay their vows, the beaches was a spectacular sight as you can see thousands of lighted candles or lanterns drifting away before your very eyes.
Some seems to know which lantern belongs to them and won't go home till they feel it float away from them. Remnants of Styrofoam candles can be seen along the Swettenham Pier in the morning.