32nd Aadipoora Thiruvizha (12th August 2018) | Helen Gray

32nd Aadipoora Thiruvizha (12th August 2018)

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Purely by chance I discovered that the Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam temple, that is the main Hindu temple in central Johor Bahru, was due to hold its Golden Chariot procession on the evening of 12th August 2018. Two of the three chariots are shown in the photo above, waiting patiently in the courtyard outside the Hindu temple. As the evening progressed, the horses' heads were decorated with blue sashes, and then the deideitiesties were carried out from the temple and carefully placed into their waiting chariots. Here are some photos of these events..

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This chariot likely carries Sri Murugan flanked by his two wives, Valli and Deivanei. Although having two wives is frowned upon in Hinduism, people seem happy to celebrate Murugan and his wives. In contrast, Sri Vinayagar is a bachelor so he is likely to be in a chariot by himself.

Meanwhile, out on the street, people were mingling around expectingly for the procession to begin.

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Then, at 7:30 pm the sky was filled with fireworks to mark the start of the 32nd Aadipoora Thiruvizha, when Sri Vinayagar, Sri Murugan and Arulmigu Rajamariamman are paraded around the streets of Johor Bahru. My understanding is that this is part of 10-days of celebration, and thanks to Johor Bahru resident Sumi Krishna I now have more information about this festival which I will give at the end of this blog. Usually, the procession would head along Jalan Trus to Jalan Ibrahim and along to another Hindu temple, but this year there was a Chinese event using Jalan Trus so the procession had to be diverted up Jalan Ungku Puan and along Jalan Duke. As the chariots are pulled and pushed by men and women, this rerouting meant a lot more work to drag/push the heavy chariots uphill and then stop them rolling too fast downhill. I imagine the people involved were glad of traffic stops which gave them some time to take a refreshing drink and recover in the evening heat.

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Here is the progress of the first chariot…..

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Here is the second chariot…...

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And here is the third chariot….. This one was much larger than the others and was escorted by many more people.

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I caught up with the procession as they tried to stop the chariots running downhill on Jalan Duke…….

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When everything was under control, people stopped to chat with the musicians and organisers…….

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I walked down Jalan Trus to its junction with Jalan Ibrahim where the procession was halted. As the world turned purple under the Sultan’s Coronation memorial, I snapped a few more photos and decided to head back along Jalan Trus for some ice cream! Meanwhile, the Chinese event continued seemingly unaware of the extraordinary activity on the surrounding streets.

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Some background information on Aadipoora Thiruvizha:

Aadi is one of the holy months in the Hindu calendar and it celebrates the Divine Mother (Goddess) in all her various forms. It is considered an auspicious celebration when there will be fasting, prayers and penance (you can see that the followers are shoeless on the hard streets of Johor Bahru). The Chariot Procession allows prayers to take place when the statue of the Goddess is brought around the temple vicinity to bless those around her, and for those who cannot make it to see her in a temple, they get a chance to see her form too. 

The prominant form of the Divine Mother in Malaysia is Mariamman, and she is the main deity in this temple, hence the name of the Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam temple. The three chariots would be for Sri Vinayagar (AKA Ganesha, the remover of obstacles), Sri Muruga (her warrior son), and Arulmigu Rajamariamman (AKA Amman, the Divine Mother). Sumi Krishna reminded me that Hinduism worships God in various names and forms, hence there are many different names for the same deity. Please also note that these are personal interpretations of a very complex religion, so other interpretations may exist. 

To get a feeling for this procession, please take a look at Lawrence’s video….

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