Friday, February 15, 2008

Praying to Jade Emperor

Today is the 9th day of Chinese New Year. The Hokkien especially will pray to Jade Emperor ( or Tnee Kong in Hokkien).

Things laid on the table for praying include sugarcane stems with leaves tied to the front left and right legs of the table, pagodas made of sugar, pomelo, pineapple, watermelon and other cakes such as nian gao and huat kuih (get-rich cake)..
Some Chinese will even burn gigantic jossticks called long xing or dragon jossticks which will continue to glow until the next day.

The inclusion of sugarcane stems needs explanation. They are offered for prayer to commemorate the narrow escape of the Hokkien people in the past when they were pursued by their enemies and had no where to hide but to go into the sugar plantation. The sugarcane plants had saved their lives because the enemies failed to spot them hiding there.
As for the offering of pineapple, it is for good luck and prosperity because the fruit is called 'ong lai' meaning 'here comes good luck or here comes prosperity'.

Despite the ban, the sound of firecrackers will fill the air here and there, especially in Penang at a few seconds after midnight to mark the beginning of the ninth day of Lunar New Year when the above prayer is done. Tourists who come to Penang will have something to remember by, especially the sound of firecrackers on this night [after midnight on Day 8 of CNY].

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