MAKESHIFT vegetarian food stalls adorned with fluttering yellow buntings have started mushrooming all over Penang as Taoist devotees observe the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
Starting today, devotees will go on a nine-day vegetarian diet for the festival, also known as Kew Ong Yeah to Penangites.
Over at the Tow Boe Keong Kew Ong Tai Tay Temple in Lintang Macallum 2, George Town, about 300 volunteers started preparing for the festival on Monday.
Temple secretary Loh Boon Huan said it is a tradition they had been practising since 1995.
“We will hold a simple procession on Oct 28 to send the deities out to sea after we observe a nine-day vegetarian diet,” he said.
Loh added that throughout the course of the festival, activities such as Chinese opera shows, cleansing rituals and prayers sessions would be held at the temple.
In Madras Lane, vegetarian food hawkers have also started setting up makeshift tents and booths.
This year, however, vegetarian food will cost slightly more compared with that of previous years.
“The prices will increase by about 10 sen to 50 sen depending on the dishes,” said the traders group chairman Lee Eng Kok, who had been running his family’s makeshift stall there since 1959.
“We have no choice but to raise our prices slightly for our business to sustain.”
Devotees can find a variety of vegetarian food, drinks and snacks on sale at the stalls since Wednesday.
The festival, observed by Taoists, is dedicated to the nine sons of Dou Mu, the Goddess of the North Star, who is believed to control the Books of Life and Death.
Devotees believe the deities arrive through the waterway and processions are usually held from temples to the river or seashore as a symbolic gesture.