MALAYSIA’s economy is expected to gain pace from June onwards, according to the forecast by the Taoist Tua Pek Kong deity.
The deity predicted that the first trimester of the lunar year which began on Feb 10 would be moderate.
The pace of the economy would be at its best from June onwards.
The prediction was made late Saturday night during the annual Chneah Hoay (flame-watching) ceremony at the Hai Choo Soo (Sea Pearl) Temple in Tanjung Tokong, Penang.
Thousands of devotees converged at the seafront temple to offer their prayers and to witness the ceremony.
Many businessmen made their way to the temple just to catch a glance of the flames during the auspicious ceremony, held for the 169th time.
There were much jostling among the devotees who had to endure thick incense smoke.
Tua Pek Kong predicted that the country’s economy would be robust in the second (June to September) and third (October to January) trimesters of the Chinese Year of the Water Snake.
Tua Pek Kong is said to be able to foretell the country’s economic state for the year via the flames from some 60 burning joss sticks.
Legend has it that the 14th day of the Chinese New Year was the time when the deity comes out to meet other resident deities of various areas and also to make the economic forecast.
“This is one of the strongest and highest flares I’ve ever seen in the past 30 years. I believe this will be a good year for all of us,” said Tan Lye Hock, who is the vice-president of the Poh Hock Seah which conducts the annual ceremony on the eve of Chap Goh Meh.
Tan said it would be a great year for traders and businessmen.
“They can look forward to generating more revenue, with the expected rapid growth.
“The flames were rising like a cobra and it didn’t take long for the embers to flare up,” Tan told a press conference after the ceremony.
The embers were fanned in three intervals at 11.50pm, 11.53pm and 11.58pm, once each for every four months of the year.
The temple’s lights, candles and oil lamps were put off at 11.45pm to enable the Poh Hock Seah committee members to scrutinise the height and intensity of the flames.
The auspicious ceremony began after the tide covered the biggest boulder at the bay fronting the temple.
Accompanied by the sounds of clanging gongs, Poh Hock Seah members fanned the urn filled with joss sticks until the embers ignited into flames.
The time taken for the flames to ignite, the way they flare as well as the height and the time taken for them to die down are all taken into consideration for the deity’s predictions.
Poh Hock Seah members had earlier in the day escorted the Tua Pek Kong statue and sacred urn around George Town before making their way to the Hai Choo Soo Temple.
They also made a stop in front of the Goddess of Mercy Temple to pay respects to the goddess.