Saturday June 30, 2012
Barisan and Pakatan leaders celebrate temple consecration together
GEORGE TOWN: Political differences were cast aside at the much anticipated grand consecration ceremony of the new hilltop Hindu temple.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng joined MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel at the RM9mil Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani temple as other Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat leaders mingled at the religious event.
Lim set the conciliatory tone by saying that “there are no political issues”.
“Everyone is here to celebrate together,’’ he told reporters.
Palanivel, who is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, returned the compliment, saying “this is no place for politicking”.
He said the Federal Government had granted RM1mil for the temple project.
Among the leaders present were Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, state Gerakan chief Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan, state People’s Progressive Party (PPP) chief Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan and DAP’s Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer.
The maha kumbabishegam (grand consecration) ceremony was witnessed by thousands of people, who walked up 512 steps leading to the temple from as early as 5am.
Some 40 Hindu priests from the six main Murugan temples in South India and 40 more chief priests from Bali performed prayers on the rooftop of the 20,000 sq ft temple as devotees prayed.
At 10.15am, Chief Priest Pitchay Gurukal from India poured holy water from an elevated platform on to the seven-storey 21.6m-tall Raja Gopuram (main tower) to mark the consecration.
The large crowd spilled over to Jalan Kebun Bunga.
The temple started off as a shrine of Lord Muruga at the base of a waterfall at the Penang Botanical Gardens some time before 1782.
It later became an important place of worship for Indian workers who ferried water to George Town on bullock carts.
By the early part of 1800, the shrine became the focus of Thaipusam celebrations, a festival dedicated to Lord Muruga.
The British decided to develop the area into a reservoir in 1850 due to the increase in the local population.
A temple was then built on a 4.45ha plot of a hillside in Jalan Kebun Bunga, before it was moved to the present location.