Devotees head to the temples to seek divine help for a smoother year.
THE Guan Di (God of War) Temple in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, has acquired a set of 60 Tai Sui or Year Deities, each representing one year in the 60-year cycle. The painted wooden carvings of the deities are imported from Taiwan. Carved embellishments from China will also be installed as part of the new home for these deities.
The entire set of 60 Year Deities costs RM100,000, said Lam Ah Peng, 58, caretaker of the 125-year-old temple in Jalan Tun H.S. Lee.
This year’s Tai Sui, Zhang Ci, is comfortably seated on his throne, waiting to take over as the official reigning deity. Zhang Ci starts his rule on Jan 31, the first day of the lunar new year, said Lam. Most Chinese temples observe this day as the start of the reign of the new Tai Sui.
However, the feng shui fraternity welcomes the Horse Year on Feb 4, the first day of Spring.
“Four zodiac signs – the Horse, Rat, Rabbit and Rooster – are said to offend Tai Sui in the Horse Year. It is believed that 2014 will not be so smooth for people born under these animal signs,” said Lam. (Some feng shui masters say the Ox is also affected).
Traditionally, those who offend Tai Sui will go to temples to pray to seek divine intervention for a better year. Some believe that by appeasing Tai Sui, their misfortune will be somewhat lessened. The time to offer prayers is during Chinese New Year.
“Each year, over 1,000 devotees will throng this temple to pray to Tai Sui for protection and blessings,” said Lam.
Guan Di Temple conducts Tai Sui prayers during the 15 days of Chinese New Year, starting on Feb 1. This is because the temple cannot cope with the crowd which comes to pray on the first day of Chinese New Year.
In Taiwan, prayers to pacify Tai Sui are a mixture of Taoist and Buddhist rites. In Malaysia, the rituals are similar to those in temples
in Hong Kong.
Lam explained: “We simplify the prayer rituals. The temple staff will guide devotees all the way.”
There are temples that perform one-off prayers to Tai Sui for convenience, saving devotees a second trip.
“The follow-up Tai Sui ritual is done out of gratitude,” said Lam.
“One should be sincere when praying to Tai Sui. Be there yourself. Sending a representative to do your bidding does not show your sincerity.”
Executive Nigel Tho, 40, believes in appeasing the deity to ward off misfortune.
Born under the Tiger zodiac, Tho sought advice from a temple in 2010, the Year of the Tiger, as his zodiac sign clashed with the reigning Tai Sui.
“I visited a temple near my home in Old Klang Road, Kuala Lumpur. The priest advised me to perform a ritual to ward off bad luck on a certain day during the Chinese New Year period,” he said. He dutifully followed the advice.
A few months later, Tho was admitted to hospital for an illness.
“My friend told me that my trip to the temple probably averted a more serious health problem.”
Financial planner Kenneth Chin, 24, who was born under the Horse zodiac, will take precaution this year. He plans to visit a temple to offer prayers to Tai Sui.
Even though he goes to the temple for prayers every year, Chin believes that one has to be on guard to avoid accidents and robberies.
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