Folded joss paper a unique prayer offering

  • Nation
  • Friday, 31 Jan 2020

Proud display: Lee (left) showing the variety of folded joss paper to customers at his shop in Taman Sentosa in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Intricate offerings of folded joss paper, no two looking alike, deck the front of Lee Keat Chye’s shop ahead of the Jade Emperor God’s birthday, known in Hokkien as Thnee Kong Seh celebration.

Made with small pieces of folded joss paper forming spiky shapes of pineapples, lotus flowers or pots of gold, Lee said not one of the 200 he made this year resembled the other.

“The idea came about 10 years ago for us to produce prayer offerings that no other shop would have.

“Work on every batch for the year starts six months earlier as each pot will need about three hours to complete.

“None of them will resemble another as each is unique, based on the inspiration which comes at the moment they are made.

“So far, we are the only shop making such offerings and do not supply to any other seller, ” he said.

Priced between RM28 and RM58 each depending on size, some are topped with lotus candles while others feature a golden base.

“Every year, we have customers from Singapore coming to buy them. Some come as early as Christmas, ” he said.

Lee, 60, added that in his 32 years running his business of selling prayer paraphernalia, this year was the busiest after his storeroom was struck by fire just days before Chinese New Year.

“I lost about RM500,000 worth of items stocked for Chinese New Year. We had to rush to reorder and reproduce the missing stock.”

Though traditionally celebrated by the Hokkiens, other groups have also begun paying homage to the deity, known as the God of Heaven, on his birthday on the ninth day of the Chinese New Year.

The prayer ceremony, also known as Bai Tian Gong, serves to give thanks to the Jade Emperor, whom Hokkiens believed had rescued their ancestors of the Hokkiens from the clutches of an invading army.

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