Paying homage to Jade Emperor

Monastic members leading the VIPs and devotees in prayers at Thnee Kong Tnuah in Ayer Itam, Penang. – Photos by ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

Devotees thronged Thnee Kong Tnuah (Jade Emperor Pavilion) in Ayer Itam, Penang, to pay homage to the Jade Emperor on his birthday.

Among them were interior designer Foong Zhen Qi, 24, who is from Kuala Lumpur, along with her family and her university mate.

“We are in Penang for a two-day holiday. This is my first time visiting the temple and I am amazed by the beautiful architecture.

“I prayed for my career to be smooth sailing, said Foong.

Fresh graduate Grace Lim, 23, was also spotted praying at the temple with her boyfriend Kim Shih Yu and his family.

“Although I have lived in Ayer Itam since I was a child, this is my first time visiting this temple.

“I prayed that my loved ones and I will be healthy and happy. I also prayed for my career to soar.

Foong: I prayed for a smooth-sailing career.Foong: I prayed for a smooth-sailing career.

“Every year, my family celebrates Thnee Kong Seh (Jade Emperor’s birthday) at home at midnight,” she said.

Spiritual healer Datuk Seri Master Ong Q Leng, 47, also came to the temple with her family and friends to pray.

“There are 56 of us and this visit has been a yearly tradition for us over the past 17 years.

“We only skipped visiting once in 2021 due to the movement control order.”

The temple usually attracts “festive beggars” who line the roads leading up to it but this time, there were not many around.

It is learnt that officers from the Social Welfare Department came from time to time to advise these “festive beggars” to go home.

A tissue seller, who wished to be known only as Ooi, said business had been slow this year.

“Instead of begging for money, I sell tissue paper here,” said Ooi who is visually impaired.

“I could not come for the past two years due to the strict Covid-19 restrictions. This time, I took the bus from Bukit Mertajam and will stay here for a day,” she said.

Kong Hock Keong board of trustees chairman Tan Kok Chye said the board manages three of the oldest temples in Penang.

“Besides this temple, we also manage the Goddess of Mercy Temple in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, which was built in 1800, and Tua Pek Kong Temple in Perak Road.

“The temples receive many visitors who wish to pray for good health and peace,” he said.

Air Putih assemblyman Lim Guan Eng visited the temple to contribute 20 tables and two fans.

Also present were Ayer Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng and former Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai.

Over at Chew Jetty along Weld Quay, the crowd was back to celebrate Thnee Kong Seh after two years of muted celebrations.

The annual affair, now into its 116th year, saw devotees gathered around a grand altar more than 12m long in front of the newly restored Chau Yuan Gong Temple.

In folklore, the Jade Emperor rescued the ancestors of the Hokkiens from an invading army.

Hokkiens from the Fujian province in China survived persecution from Sung Dynasty soldiers by hiding in a sugarcane plantation for nine consecutive days from the start of the Chinese New Year.

Since then, Hokkiens have celebrated Chinese New Year on a grander scale on the ninth day of the new lunar year.

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