Thursday, 14 February 2008

Prayers to the Emperor God

Tonight's the eighth night of Chinese New Year. As I type this entry, I know there is still a blanket ban on the burning of firecrackers and fireworks in this country but despite the ban, I hear them going off all around my neighbourhood. It's a wonderful sight and sound. Since a few minutes before midnight, people are already starting to pray hard to the Emperor God (Tnee Kong).

Although my family is Hokkien, we do not celebrate this occasion on a grand scale like other Hokkiens. What we'll do is just to pray as normal. Others will lay out an elaborate and impressive display of foodstuff and fruits, including sugarcane. The legs of the table will rest on stools; the idea being to raise the table as high as possible to reach up to the Emperor God.

Earlier this evening, my wife and I had driven to Market Road in the centre of Bukit Mertajam where the Tua Pek Kong temple is located. There was a Chinese opera troupe performing at the small hawker centre. We didn't stop long to look at it. Just long enough for me to snap this picture.

And this one. It's a closer look at the stage. See how elaborate the backprops are?

Do you notice all those people seated in front of the stage? They were certainly no Valentine Day crowd! Just people who must have turned up for the free entertainment because almost all the hawker stalls were closed.

My aunt told me not to join in the prayers this year because I had attended a funeral yesterday. The father of the Quah Kongsi's vice-president had passed away on the third day of the Lunar New Year. Normally, people will dissociate themselves from such places during this time, certainly not until after the birthday of the Emperor God is celebrated. I'm not that superstitious and I felt that it was incumbent on me to go. So I went to pay my respects to the deceased.

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