Act of respect: Chiam praying to send the deity off at her home in Sungai Dua.
GEORGE TOWN: Although most of her family members have converted to Christianity, Chiam Ai Lee, 62, still practises certain Chinese traditions.
Every year without fail, Chiam will offer prayers to send off Zhao Chun (Kitchen God) and this year, she carried out the ritual again at her home in Sungai Dua, Penang.
“Others prefer to send the deity off right after the stroke of midnight on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month, but I usually perform this ritual on the actual day, usually around 7am,” she said yesterday.
“My youngest daughter who lives with me is a Christian so she did not take part in the ritual.
“Although my mother converted to Christianity a few decades ago, it’s still important to keep our Chinese traditions alive,” she said when met at her home.
Following a Teochew tradition, Chiam used a bowl of rice, bowl of sugar, thnee kuih (sticky glutinous rice cake) and 12 folded joss paper horses during the sending-off.
“Usually, Hokkiens will offer tangerines, thnee kuih, huat kuih (prosperity cakes) and chen up (comprising longans, red dates and sugar), but for Teochews, we only offer the basic items,” she said.
According to Chinese beliefs, the Kitchen God would report on merits and demerits of each Chinese household to the Jade Emperor during his annual trip back to the heaven.
Thnee kuih is a must during the annual send-off as the sweet glutinous rice cake is said to sweeten the deity’s mood and “seal” his lips to prevent him from making any unfavourable reports.
Chiam said Chinese households would only be allowed to clean the altars in their house after sending off the deity.
“This is an act of respect to the deity. We will welcome the deity back from the heaven on the fourth day of Chinese New Year with prayers,” she added.