Festivals in Penang

Dragon Boat Festival in Penang-

Dragon boat festival is one of our Penang State signature event. It is among the fastest growing water sports in this region. Dragon Boat festival has become a very popular corporate and charitable sport, during which friendship, strength and endurance are developed among the participants.

We believe in promoting Dragon Boat as a sports activitiies, we could introduce our culture and heritage to our local Penangites as well as foreign participants.

The 6th IDBF Club Crew World and the 8th Asian Dragon Boat Championships was held in Penang in 2008, producing the biggest Dragon Boat Championships so far held in Dragon Boat Sports with over 200 crews from 86 Clubs and 21 countries taking part.

Nearly 4000 competitors contested in the 50 competition class in the history of the dragon boat races.

Chap Goh Meh Celebration

The Chap Goh Meh Celebration, also known as the Chinese Valentine's Day celebration hosted by the state government on Monday night, was a definite crowd puller as the event saw a tremendous turnout of a sea of 40,000 locals and tourists who packed the field and the streets at the Esplanade.

The event saw an array of activities and performances which were held in full swing to reveal a night of cultural enchantment. Much to the delight of many tourists who were out on the town that night, Nyonya ladies guided their moves in a mass joget with the Dondang Sayang performers, followed by the throwing of mandarin oranges into the sea by the Miss Pesta finalists and local maidens in search for their soulmate, a long tradition which was started by the Baba Nyonya community.

Without a shortage of entertainment, the other performances to get the festive night going were a dragon dance, an Indian dance performance, a boria sketch, a Teochew opera performance and an Ox dance which one can only see during the Year of the Ox. The night ended with a colourful display of fireworks to mark the last day of the Chinese New Year that night.

Without a doubt , the high point of the night was embazzled by world lion dance champion Kun Seng Keng Lion and Dragon Dance Association from Muar, Johor, which kept the audience in batted breath suspense as the lions leaped around in kung-fu stances on the three metre high stilts.

What was more, the spectators were not left with drawn breaths for long and instead burst into chuckles as the lions' performance turned into a courting scene which left the crowd clapping and cheering with each stunt.

Thaipusam in Penang

Thaipusam is celebrated during the full moon of the 10th month in the Hindu calendar. It is normally held in the last week of January or the beginning of February, depending on the alignment of the sun, moon and planets.

A pilgrimage procession takes place to bring the statue of Lord Muruga, who represents virtue, youth and power, on a silver chariot led by more then 60 Kavadis adorned with peacock feathers from Little India to the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple atop the hill of Waterfall Road.

On the day before (19th January), old coconuts are smashed along the roads where the Chariot procession will take place.

During Thaipusam in Penang (20th January), devotees go through a physical endurance of being skewered and pierced on the back and front of their bodies by hooks with miniature urns as an act of penance. Majority of the devotees who go through this act are Indians but Chinese, Sikh and other visitors can also be seen taking part in this act of faith which leaves many devotees and observers alike, spiritually transformed.

In celebration, more than 100 beautifully-decorated make-shift stalls, are erected along Waterfall Road road where charitable Chinese and Indian families give out bottled water, fruits, sweet, buns and prepared sweetened and sour rice to devotees. Thunderous loud music, singing, dancing and the beating of drums of devotional songs by their supporters can be seen and heard far and wide throughout the entire vicinity of the festival.

Masi Magam

The annual Masi Magam Theppe Thiruvilla (floating chariot) festival — an event unique in the country will be included in Penang’s tourism calendar.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the seaside festival, which had been attracting tens of thousands of devotees to the 112-year-old Sri Singamuga Kaliamman Temple in Teluk Bahang yearly, had become the second largest Hindu celebration in the state after Thaipusam.

"This festival draws large number of devotees and tourists from other states and countries like Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.


SOME 300 devotees gathered at the Sri Veerakaliamman Devasthanam temple in Sungai Gelugor, Penang, all garbed in colourful new sarees, Punjabi suits, silk dhotis and anxiously waited for the milk in two brightly decorated claypots to boil over.

As soon as this happened, elderly women in the group cried out: Ponggalo Ponggal! Ponggalo Ponggal! while a temple assistant blew the sangu (conch) to announce to everyone present that the year ahead would be blessed with good tidings.

Devotees then turned their faces to the sun, clasped their palms together and offered prayers to thank the Sun God for a bountiful harvest and another profitable year.
Temple chairman M.K. Samy said the Ponggal celebration had been held at the temple since 1975.

"Devotees who are living in Bukit Gelugor, Minden Heights, Bukit Gelugor and even Bayan Baru attend the Ponggal celebration at the temple, he said.

Samy said devotees got together to cook ven(milk) ponggal and sakkre(brown sugar) ponggal at 10am.
“Two new claypots were each placed on top of three bricks in front of the temple entrance, before the firewood was lit.

"Young sugarcane stalks were also tied to form a triangle over the pots signifying a sweet start for the festival.
"About 20 minutes later when the milk in the pots boiled and flowed over, the devotees cried out Ponggalo, Ponggal," he said.

Temple chief priest M.S. Thyagarajan and his assistant Murugan Gurukkal oversaw the whole process of cooking the ponggal.

Rice, brown sugar, raisins, cashew nuts and ghee were added into one of the pots to make sakkre(brown sugar) ponggal while only rice was added into the second pot to make the ven(milk) ponggal.

The main entrance of the temple was also decorated with colourful kolam drawings and young sugarcane tied at both sides of the main temple door.

Samy said a special pooja (prayer) was offered to Lord Ganesha before the start of the Ponggal Festival to seek blessings and protection.

"The overflowing of the milk in the pot symbolises prosperity, peace and happiness for all," he said.

After the milk had boiled over, prayers were offered to the Goddess Veerakaliamman before devotees were served with both types of the ponggal rice.

Malaysian Indians nationwide celebrated the festival which usually falls on the 10th month of the Tamil calendar as a thanksgiving for bountiful harvest and a good year by holding special prayers at home and temples.

The second day of Ponggal is known as Mattu (cow) Ponggal where cows are honoured, given baths and garlanded as cows are sacred animals for the Hindus.

The third day is known as the Kanni (young maidens) Ponggal where back in the olden days, young unmarried girls were encouraged to come out of their homes dressed in their finery to attend a celebration while young men were invited to view their prospective brides.

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival

THOUSANDS of devotees, all dressed in white, converged on the Tow Boo Kong Temple on Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth, for a floats procession held in conjunction with the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.

The whole street took on a festive mood on Friday as the eight-float procession inched its way along Jalan Raja Uda, Jalan Telaga Air, Jalan Bagan Jermal and Jalan Tamby Kecil before returning to the temple.

The main float was carrying the statues of the Nine Emperor Gods and Tou Mu (Queen of Heaven) who, according to Chinese mythology, is the mother of the Nine Emperor Gods.

One of the brightly lit and well decorated float coming out from the elaborated archway of the Tow Boo Kong Temple in Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth.

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