All fired up to honour deity

A giant ‘snake’ slithering around before the flame-watching ceremony at the temple. — Photos: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

HUNDREDs of devotees enjoyed a night of festivities at the Hock Hin Keong (Ban Ka Lan Snake Temple) in Penang during the temple’s CNY Culture Celebration 2020.

Tourists Bertrand Subrin, 34, wife Mercedes Ortegra, 29, and son Kai Subrin, two, from France were among those intrigued by the cultural activities.

“This event is so interesting and colourful, ” said Bertrand who was seen checking out a Chinese brush painting booth.

“It is nice to see such an extravagant lineup for the Chinese New Year festival.

“This is unlike any other celebration we have experienced in other countries.

Young dancers ushering in the Year of the Rat.Young dancers ushering in the Year of the Rat.

“We love the music and performances plus the workshops here have given us a proper taste of Chinese culture.”

During the celebration, the visitors were thrilled by Chingay stunts, stilt walkers and a show by a snake charmer.

Dances and an exciting warrior drum performance drummed up the festive fervour.

The crowd also flocked to workshops featuring various crafts including paper-cutting, ang pow lantern-making, wood-carving, henna, beading, stone-drawing, airplane origami and leaf grasshopper-making.

Various food stalls were set up along the road.

Three majestic ‘lions’ grabbing the crowd’s attention.Three majestic ‘lions’ grabbing the crowd’s attention.

The celebration was held to observe the birthday of the temple’s resident deity Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong.

It also saw a flame-watching ceremony near midnight, a yearly tradition to read the deity’s predictions based on the stability, brightness and strength of three bursts of flames from the incense urn.

Each flame represents a four-month cycle of the year.

Event organising chairperson Cheah Cheng Ean said the celebration which fell on the sixth day of the Chinese New Year was also aimed at promoting tourism.

A group of visitors taking a wefie together before the flame-watching ceremony.A group of visitors taking a wefie together before the flame-watching ceremony.

“The event also enlightens young Malaysians on the history and culture of the local Chinese.”

State tourism development, arts, culture and heritage committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said in his speech at the event that the celebration preserved cultural inheritance and also attracted tourists.

“I urge industries to play a role in making Penang a better tourism destination as well as a great state to live in.”

Afterwards, the crowd gathered around the temple to watch a 10 minute-long fireworks display.

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