Sunday February 17, 2013
Hokkiens rush to buy stuff to please the Jade Emperor
By HAN KAR KAY
GEORGE TOWN: The Hokkien Taoist community thronged markets here to buy various items and offerings as they prepared for the Thnee Kong Seh (Jade Emperor's birthday) celebration.
Among the items which sold like hot cakes were the ngor siew th'ng (pink pagoda-shaped candy), bit chien (skewered sweets), bee koe (sweet glutinous rice) and pineapple-shaped thnee kong kim (gold for the God of Heaven).
Also popular was the thnee kong poh (offerings folded in gold-coloured paper for the Jade Emperor).
A must were sugar cane stalks, which play a significant role in the festival because the Hokkiens believe that their ancestors from Fujian province in China survived persecution from Sung Dynasty soldiers by hiding in a sugar cane plantation for nine days during Chinese New Year. They emerged unharmed on the Jade Emperor's birthday and believed that they were protected by the god.
At the Chowrasta Market yesterday, sugar cane seller Tan Weng Chaw, 56, said that he sold more than 200 long leafy stalks.
“The figure is more or less the same compared to previous years,” he said, adding that each stalk costs between RM5 and RM6.
Also enjoying brisk business was Ong Jeng Teik, 60, who sold some 40 ngor siew th'ng within a few hours. He sells the pagoda-shaped candy for between RM10 and RM12 a packet.
“Customers like to buy the candy and glutinous rice to mark the Jade Emperor's birthday,” Ong said.
Devotees were also seen looking for giant-sized thnee kong poh at shops in Carnavon Street.
Trader A.L. Chan, who has been selling prayer items for more than 10 years, said the locally made offerings in gold-coloured paper were popular among the Hokkiens.
Although the Jade Emperor's birthday falls on the ninth day of Chinese New Year tomorrow, the grand celebration will kick off tonight.
Devotees will set up altars and offer various prayer items and food to honour the Jade Emperor.
A focal point of the celebration here is Thni Kong Tnua (Jade Emperor Temple) at the foot of Penang Hill, where thousands of devotees usually pay homage to the deity.