Online services to mark festival

Khaw (left) and a committee member arranging prayer items which devotees have ordered online for ceremonies to be performed on their behalf by the temple.

Regular devotees of a temple in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, can still mark the Nine Emperor Gods Festival despite the temple being closed throughout the festival this year.

Persatuan Penganut Dewa Kiew Ong Yeah Megat Harun is taking the festival online by offering prayer packages to devotees.

“These packages are being sold online. Devotees may purchase them and have the temple perform prayers on their behalf,” said the temple’s public affairs manager Vincent Khaw when met at the temple off Jalan Megat Harun.

“This service enables devotees to still perform their obligation without coming to the temple.

“We have joss stick and prayer paraphernalia packages which are priced from RM39 to RM99.

“So far, over 100 sets have been sold and orders continue to pour in.

“This is the first time the temple is hosting prayers online. We decided to do this in August when the number of Covid-19 cases was high.

Devotees gathering to pray during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Bukit Mertajam before the pandemic. This year, celebrations have to be held online for many of them. — FilepicDevotees gathering to pray during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Bukit Mertajam before the pandemic. This year, celebrations have to be held online for many of them. — Filepic

“Although we are allowed to operate under strict standard operating procedures, we do not encourage the public to come to the temple as many temple committee members are already present,” he said.

The temple held a prayer session on Oct 8. Prayers will again be held today which is the sixth day of the festival and on Thursday, the ninth day.

“There are several live video sessions on social media for devotees to follow although we are not organising this year’s festival on a grand scale.

“There will be no processions or opera shows this year,” said Khaw.

The temple is also selling lotus candles at RM10 each and dragon joss sticks at RM60 each.

“There are also lanterns priced at RM99 and RM128 each, which will be hung at the temple for a year upon purchase.

“Payment can be made via e-wallet platforms.”

The temple was founded in the 1940s and started celebrating the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in 1965.

This year’s festival will end on Thursday. It is held on the first day of the ninth lunar month and is observed by the Taoist community.

Devotees observe a vegetarian diet during the festival that pays homage to the Goddess of the North Star, believed to control the Books of Life and Death.

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