Saturday, February 8, 2014

初八晚拜天公 Birthday of Jade Emperor

The eighth day of first Lunar Month prayers to the Lord of heaven (12th midnight) for 9th day of the Lunar calendar.

Last night was the 8th and at midnight, the Hokkiens celebrated their true Chinese New Year...They call it Bai Tee Kong.

Photos from Wilson....

(bai tian gong or 拜天公

 At Lunar New Year Day 9, the Hokkien will hold a Jade Emperor ritual 
  It is a common practice to hold the ritual prayer at late night passing 12 am on CNY Day 8. 
  In Malaysia prayers are usually followed by a display of  the fireworks...

  incenses are burnt and food offerings are made to the Jade Emperor and also to Zao Junthe god of kitchen who reports to the Emperor on each family. 
It is also  the birthday of the Jade Emperor
Devotees will set up altars and offer various prayer items and food to honour the Jade Emperor.

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.
ngor siew th'ng
Among the items which sold like hot cakes were the ngor siew th'ng (pink pagoda-shaped candy), bit chien (skewered sweets),
customers checking out the bit chien
(skewered sweets) being sold at a shop in Chowrasta market

 bee koe (sweet glutinous rice) huat kueh (pink steamed rice cakes) ang koo (red glutinuous rice cakes) and pineapple-shaped thnee kong kim (gold for the God of Heaven)
thnee kong kim from Cecil wet market in  Penang
Paper pineapple (pineapple shaped folded paper offering)
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.
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.

Lots of joss paper is burnt
(Pictures taken from my cousin's collection)

Also popular was the thnee kong poh (offerings folded in gold-coloured paper for the Jade Emperor).
Family Affair

I was invited to celebrate Bai Tian Gong by Linda but it was too late as it starts at 12 midnight and the revellry goes on till about 3 in the morning...
maybe next year I will bring my pyjamas and stay the night!

This festival is also known as Thnee Kong Seh
or Birthday of Jade Emperor 
or Bai Thian Kong.

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