GEORGE TOWN: Preparations are in full swing for the Jade Emperor’s birthday celebration as the Hokkien community in Penang thronged markets to buy offerings for the festivities.
The birthday, or Thnee Kong Seh, is celebrated by the Hokkiens on the ninth day of the Lunar New Year, which falls tomorrow.
Among the items that were bought by devotees include sugar cane stalks, traditional cakes, fruits and prayer paraphernalia.
Trader Yeoh Cheang Lye, who was spotted selling sugar cane from his lorry at the Perak Road market, said the celebration marked the first day of the new year for the Hokkien community.
“Legend has it that the Hokkiens were attacked in China a long time ago.
“They hid in a sugar cane plantation until the chaos ended on the ninth day of Chinese New Year, which happens to be the birthday of the Jade Emperor.
“Ever since then, the Hokkiens have regarded this date as symbolic of their survival and used sugar canes as offerings,” he said.
Meanwhile, another trader, Jack Loo, 30, was spotted selling wu shou tang ta, which is a pink tower made of sugar.
“We sell around 400 to 450 sets for the celebration.
“In a day, we can make around 80 sets.
“There is no expiry date for it and people would usually melt it and make agar-agar after the celebration,” said Loo.
Bok Ah Choo, who sells prayer tables, said they started selling the tables on the fourth day of Chinese New Year.
“It is believed that the taller the table is, the better the luck one will receive in the new year,” she said.
Mee koo (red tortoise bun) manufacturer Ewe Kwang Sing said thousands of coloured buns were produced with around 500kg of flour for the celebration this year.
“Pink buns are for those who pray with roasted pork and the yellow buns are for vegetarians,” he added.
Among those who were spotted buying items at the market was electrician Lim Seong Kang, 50.
“I bought a new red table as my existing one does not have enough space to put all of our offerings,” he said.