GEORGE TOWN: Devotees arrived in droves at the more than a century-old Chew Jetty in Weld Quay with offerings to celebrate the Jade Emperor’s birthday.
Also known as the New Year for the Hokkien community, devotees came as early as 7pm with among others, sugar cane, a must-have, along with rice wine, ang koo (bean paste cake), mee koo (red tortoise bun), huat kuih (prosperity cake), roasted meat and fruits.
And, these were then arranged on a 36.5m-long altar.
Other items like the thnee kong kim (pineapple-shaped ‘gold’ for the God of Heaven), ngor siew th’ng (pink pagoda-shaped candy) and thnee kong poh (offerings folded in ‘gold’ paper) were also placed at the altar yesterday – the ninth day of the Lunar New Year when devotees start their prayers.
Devotees and visitors were then entertained to a lion dance on stilts, Chinese 24 seasons drums and acrobatic performances, all of which were sponsored by the state government.
When the clock struck midnight, the dark sky was illuminated by fireworks.
Canadian Hannah Brown, 29, was awed by the celebrations, especially the Chingay performance.
“I was told about the celebrations by the owner of my backpacker hostel, and I had Googled the story of how the Jade Emperor protected the Hokkiens.
“I wanted to see it with my own eyes and I am really impressed,” she said.
Chin Siew See, 62, said she had been celebrating Thnee Kong Seh (Jade Emperor’s birthday) for over five decades, but yesterday was the first time she attended the celebrations at the jetty.
“This year, I brought along some fruits to take part in the prayers,” said Chin, who came with her daughter Lim Kim Heok, 40.
Also present were Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng.
Earlier, hundreds of devotees participated in a 3km procession at 3pm.
The procession featuring a dragon boat float carrying the Jade Emperor’s statue started at the jetty, passed through the Xuan Mu Temple at Weld Quay, Malay Street Ghaut, Beach Street, Chulia Street Ghaut, Temple of the Goddess of Mercy at Pitt Street, China Street, before it headed back to the jetty.
The Jade Emperor’s statue was later placed on an ornate wooden structure set up at the entrance of the jetty for the night’s prayers.
Over at the Thnee Kong Tnua (Jade Emperor’s Temple), at the foot of Penang Hill in Air Itam, thousands thronged the temple.