Thursday, February 13, 2014

Malaysia 2014 : Pai Ti Kong - Jade Emperor God Festival

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / Footsteps / Malaysia 2014 / Pai Ti Kong Festival
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Clan Jetties, George Town, Penang, Malaysia - February 2014
The Jade Emperor God's birthday is celebrated by Chinese (mainly Hokkiens) on the ninth day of the Chinese New Year. But like most festivals, the celebration and prayers start on the eve of the day itself. One of the world's most active and largest celebration is held at Weld Quay in George Town, Penang. This is the road that runs perpendicular to the clan jetties, the residents of whom are Hokkiens.
Other areas in which this festival is celebrated in a grand way is the Jade Emperor Pavilion in Air Itam (next to the Kek Lok Si Temple) and at the Goddess of Mercy Temple at Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.

Alas! Driving down I was caught in a massive traffic jam at Weld Quay. See, part of the road was closed for the festivities. I made a U-turn at parked at Church Street. It was 9:30 pm, just the right time to catch the preparation for the prayers which will start right at midnight.
It would be more advisable to drive in to the Beach Street area and park somewhere convenient.

From Church Street, I walked a kilometre or two to reach the area of the festivities which start just before the Lim Clan Jetty (i.e. just after the Penang Ferry Terminal) and stretched to the Yeoh Jetty.
It was a worthwhile walk, for when I reach the area it was a throng of people walking among each other almost shoulder to shoulder. The air of festivity was there for the locals and foreigners alike. As I walked along down the street my excitement built up as I passed.....

... rows of giant joss sticks. Each of these were easily ten foot tall and .....

each was embossed with colourful fierce looking dragons.

... houses and shops with temporary altars laid onto the road. On these altars were offering made to the Jade Emperor God.

A little boy hitting out a resounding beat on a giant drum....

While friends did a mock lion dance to the rhythmic beat of the little boys drumming.

Right in front of the Chew Clan Jetty, on a long table altar easily about a hundred feet long were laid offerings to the Jade Emperor God; offerings such as fruits, cakes, etc.

On on end of this altar were several roasted pigs; a must-have offering.

At the other end was the altar proper, with small triangular flags hanging from its rear.

Below the altar were brightly lit apple-sized red candles. A devotee tended over it to ensure that all are lighted up.

Other than the altars, devotees have also stacked up "hell notes" in front of their houses and shops. These notes were folded into ingot shapes or spiralled to look like flowers. These will be burnt at midnight as an offering to the Jade Emperor God.

At a car-park area, throngs were watching a stage show. This is also a must during the celebrations. Nowadays it has been modernized with two large screen televising the live performance.
So much is going on; and I have not yet stepped into the clan jetties proper yet!

I am ready to enter a clan jetty, I chose to go into the Chew Jetty the largest and where celebrations were the most festive.

For the Chinese New Year period, a brightly litted neon arch has bee put up at the Chew Jetty entrance. It was in the style of historical Chinese arches with thousands of red lanterns lighted up to lead the way in.

A peep into the Chew Jetty.
I walked around the entrance area but did not go onto the planked walkway of the jetty itself as I will be visiting a friend who stays at another jetty later.

Nearby a Red Dragon sign warmly wish visitors Gong Xi Fa Cai, a Happy Chinese New Year. The residents here sure know how to celebrate in grand and lavish way.

To another side of the Chew Jetty entrance is the Chew Clan Temple.

At the entrance pavilion of the temple an altar has been erected with offerings to the Jade Emperor God. The place is paced full of people, mostly devotees.

 Devotees will light up joss sticks, pray and then stick the joss sticks into a large brass urn on the altar.

Walking around, one can't help but notice the tall stalks of sugar-cane at all the altars. What's the significance of this? Well, during the heavenly war between the Jade Emperor and the demonic dark side, the Hokkiens hid in the fields of sugar cane. The sugar cane has come to be a sign of protection.

Back at the main road, tourists were taking turns to be photographed with a man dressed as the Cai Sen, God of Wealth. With a flick of his hand to open a folding fan, he adviced people, "Get a good hold of my large gold tael and your year will be filled with wealth"
I took my turn, clasping the gold tael tightly with both my hands; I am going to buy a lottery ticket after this. *smiles*

It's getting close to midnight; residents get ready to set of fireworks to usher in his Lordship's birthday.

All over the place, strings of fireworks crackled loudly as there were let off, followed by the clouds of smoke with a burning smell of sulphur.

Fireworks lit up the sky!

The roasted pigs were cut up to be distributed.

The hell notes were burnt.

The largest offering was in front of the Chew Jetty Temple, where in a large brick furnace it was a bonfire of hell notes.

I left the place and headed for my friends place at the other clan jetty (... see Celebrating Jade Emperor's Birthday @ A Clan Jetty House blog).


Related Blogs :

Malaysia - Street Art @ Hin Bus Art Depot
George Town, Penang : February 2014
An exhibition of interesting art by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / Footsteps / Malaysia 2014 / Pai Ti Kong Festival
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