‘A privilege to spread joy as God of Prosperity’

The Chaoyi Teochew Puppet and Opera Cultural Troupe including Lim (squatting left) and How (squatting right) making their appearance as Gods of Prosperity at a mall. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

A GROUP of men with a bond to traditional Chinese culture wore their God of Prosperity costumes once again after two years of pared-down Chinese New Year celebrations.

The men from the Chaoyi Teochew Puppet and Opera Cultural Troupe used to make appearances as the God of Prosperity to spread cheer every year before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Troupe founder Kelvin Lim Poh Hang, 61, said his involvement started in 2010.

“At that time, I was a restaurant owner and used to dress up as the God of Prosperity during the festive season.

“I was a lone ranger in the beginning but slowly, more friends joined me and our group expanded to around 20 members, aged between 25 and 61.

“We shared our knowledge about Chinese culture and are passionate about playing the role of the God of Prosperity,” he said.

Initially, they made appearances in the northern region only, mainly Penang and Ipoh in Perak, and went to other states after the peak period.

“Usually, we are very busy from the 12th month of the lunar calendar of the previous year until the second month in the new year,” said Lim.

He said business had been slow for the past two years but they persevered and were experiencing more demand this year.

“We were invited to more than 100 events to appear as the God of Prosperity.

“Besides entertaining shoppers in malls, we were also invited to company events and thanksgiving ceremonies.

“When we have the time, we give back to society by making appearances at old folks homes and orphanages for free,” he added.

To make things extra special this year, the troupe members can now appear as six Gods of Prosperity at the same time.

“Four of the Gods of Prosperity represent north, south, east and west with the fifth appearing as the middle and the sixth is the right-hand man to the deities.

“Each of us have different coloured attire and equipment which symbolise different meanings,” said Lim.

It takes him about an hour to dress up and put on his make-up as the God of Prosperity.

“Old-timers like us know how to put on our make-up ourselves.

“Some of the costumes are heavy and can weigh between 3kg and 7kg. All our costumes are imported from China.

“My team and I make sure our attire is complete and stay true to the image of the character.

“Sometimes, we get invited to play different traditional characters such as Guan Gong and Monkey King as well,” he said.

The youngest of the troupe, Jackson How Lon Sern, 25, has been dressing up as the God of Prosperity since he was 17.

“I have appeared at shopping centres, carnivals, temples and associations’ events.

“I love the character. It is a privilege to spread joy to others and continue our Chinese traditions as well,” he said.

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