More than 500,000 people including foreign tourists are expected to converge on the Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga here on Feb 1 for the Thaipusam festival.

The Thaipusam festival is an event in Penang’s tourism calendar.

For visitors’ convenience, the temple management and several factories and associations are setting up 110 stalls along Jalan Utama to distribute free food and beverage.

Thaipusam organising committee chairman A. Chandra Kanthan said policemen would be stationed at various locations to prevent any untoward incidents, including sale of liquor.

He said more than 1,000 kavadi of various sizes and colours would be carried by Hindus up the 248 steps to the top of the temple as an act of seeking blessings from the god.

The festival will begin on Jan 31 with the procession of a 113 year-old charriot carrying the Murugan deity from Kovil Veedu to Lebuh Penang.

The procession will pass through Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Victoria, Jalan Megazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat and Jalan Utama before arriving at the Thendayuthapani Nattukottai Chettiar temple in Jalan Kebun Bunga.

As the procession passes by, Hindus will break hundreds of coconuts along the way to symbolise their victory or success.