Paying tribute to sibling deities

‘DRAGONS’ and ‘Chinese deities’ took to the streets of inner George Town, Penang, during a float procession organised by Tow Boh Keong Temple in Cheong Fatt Tze Road (formerly known as Hong Kong Street).

The grand procession involving 99 floats was the biggest to date for the temple to mark its 175th anniversary and also the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.

Some 1,000 participants were involved in the event which was witnessed by tens of thousands of people who lined the procession route. There was even a trishaw-themed float which proved to be popular with the crowd.

A participant dressed up as a deity much to the amusement of the crowd. ?(Right pic) One of the colourful floats passing Lebuh Carnarvon, Penang.
A participant dressed up as a deity much to the amusement of the crowd.

It was flagged off by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng from Lebuh Carnavon at 7pm on Sunday. Also present was Penang Tourism Development Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang.

The route covered Jalan Magazine, Jalan Gurdwara, Lebuh Macallum, Lebuh Mcnair, Jalan C.Y. Choy, Gat Lebuh Prangin, Pengkalan Weld, Lebuh Light, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Lebuh Chulia, Jalan Penang, Jalan Lim Chwee Leong and back to Lebuh Carnarvon before returning to Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze.

Organising chairman Datuk Seri Choot Ewe Seng said they had only 93 floats taking part in the event initially but a few days before the event, the committee received several calls from temples wanting to join in the procession at the last minute.

“That’s why we have an additio-nal six.”

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival, also known as Kew Ong Yeah Festival, started on Oct 20 which was the first day of the ninth lunar month.

Large turnout for the the Hong Kong Tow Boh Keong Temple float procession as it goes along Lebuh Carnavon, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star
One of the colourful floats passing Lebuh Carnarvon, Penang.

The festival, observed by Taoists, is dedicated to the nine sons of Tou Mu, the Goddess of the North Star, who is believed to control the Books of Life and Death.

Her sons, deified as ren huang (human sovereigns), are said to have the ability to cure illnesses and bless devotees with luck, wealth and longevity.

Devotees believe the gods came through the waterway and processions are usually held from temples to the river or seashore as a symbolic gesture.

The festival is usually celebrated on the first nine days of the month where devotees will observe a strict vegetarian diet and refrain from vice activities until the festival is over.

Another highlight will be a concert at 8pm tomorrow in memory of Penang-born singer Lee Yee, who died in 1980 after a car accident in Kuala Lumpur.

On the final day of the festival on Saturday, a farewell ceremony to send off the deities will be held along Jalan Weld Quay.

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