All set for the Nine Emperor Gods fest

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 18 Oct 2009

GEORGE TOWN: Several streets here were turned into fairgrounds as makeshift vegetarian stalls decorated with yellow flags and bunting sprouted up for the annual Nine Emperor Gods festival which starts today.

The festival begins on the first day of the ninth Lunar month and during this period, Chinese Taoists will observe a strict vegetarian diet for nine days.

As some devotees observe a vegetarian diet a day earlier to cleanse themselves, many set up stalls to “cash in”, selling an array of vegetarian dishes or prayer items for the festival, popularly known as Kew Ong Yeah among locals.

Stall operator Lee Eng Kok, 48, said he imported ingredients for vegetarian bak kut teh, such as vegetarian pork ribs and kidneys, from Kota Kinabalu for the festival.

“The bak kut teh is priced at RM8.80 per set,” said Lee at his stall in Madras Lane.

During the festival, devotees also gather at the various Kew Ong Yeah temples to burn joss sticks and offer prayers for continued health and prosperity.

The festival is dedicated to the nine sons of Tou Mu, Goddess of the North Star, who is said to control the books of life and death.

Her sons, deified as jen huang (human sovereigns), are said to have the ability to cure sickness and bestow luck, wealth and longevity.

The festival will end on Oct 26 with processions to several beachfronts on the island where the deities are ceremoniously sent off to sea.

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