The Penang Hindu Endowment Board (PHEB) is unfazed over a possible clash of chariots on Thaipusam day as the police have stepped in to deal with the matter.
PHEB chairperson P Ramasamy claimed its Golden Chariot is the official one and would lead the procession during the Feb 9 religious festival.
The PHEB had been at loggerheads with the Nattukotai Chettiar community, which has been organising the silver chariot procession during Thaipusam on the island for about 160 years.
But Ramasamy claimed that the community members are foreigners who have been collecting funds which are not used for the benefit of the local people.
"It was agreed in a meeting with the police yesterday, the PHEB and the Chettiars would manage and organise their respective chariots separately.
"The police will provide the security to ensure that both the chariots run smoothly.
"Although the PHEB proposed, in the spirit of 'Hindu unity', for some form of coordination between both the parties, however, the Chettiars did not want to reciprocate the kindness of the PHEB, " he said.
Ramasamy claimed the personalities behind the Chettiar community are not Malaysians but Indian citizens.
He explained that the launching of the Golden Chariot was not a mere religious procession.
"It is an attempt on the part of the majority of Hindus in Penang to assert their rights as citizens of Malaysia against foreigners who continue to use temples to exploit the poor and the unfortunate, " Ramasamy said.
He claimed that the Chettiars had refused to cooperate with the PHEB.
The Golden Chariot will start at Queen Street Maha Mariamman temple at 5am on Feb 8 and proceed on a 9km journey to Sri Arulmigu Balathandathayuthapani Murugan temple (Hilltop temple) reaching around midnight.
According to Ramasamy, there was tremendous support from Penangites for the Golden Chariot.
But the state government critics, including Gerakan, had warned the former of trying to hijack the people's religious events.
When contacted, Nattukotai Chettiar Temple managing trustee Dr A Narayan said he was currently overseas and would respond to the matter on Monday.
Another trustee, M Renganathan, said he was ill and would also respond to the issue on Monday.
"Our trustees will get back to you on Monday. Please bear with us," said Narayanan.
"Anyway, none of what Prof Ramasamy says is true. It is all for his personal benefit," Narayanan said via a WhatsApp message.- Mkini