How could I have missed this story about the annual Chniah Hoay ceremony at the Hai Choo Soo (Sea Pearl) Temple in Tanjung Tokong on Saturday night? This is about the biggest event of Chinese New Year for the Chinese business community in Penang. Businessmen look forward to the predictions by Grand Uncle Tua Pek Kong "God of Prosperity" on the economy's performance for the next 12 months.
The prediction this year? The country's economy will peak in mid-May and the recovery will last until early September. After that, the economy will only be average.
Many devotees believe that the predictions come from observing the flames during the Chniah Hoay ceremony. The Hai Choo Soo overlooks the sea and the ceremony starts at high tide when the waters come in to cover a certain rock off the shore. At this point, the temple committee members start fanning an urn containing some 60 burning joss sticks. The height and intensity of the flames and the speed with which the embers flare up are then taken as the predictions of Tua Pek Kong. This year, the embers were fanned at 11.38pm, 11.42pm and 11.44pm, once each for every four months of the lunar year.