Nine Emperor Gods Festival celebration scaled down

Low-key celebration: Workers setting up tents for the food stalls at Madras Lane for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: For the first time in almost 30 years, vegetarian food traders will not be setting up stalls in Lintang Macallum 2 during the annual Nine Emperor Gods Festival.

The traders were worried that the strict standard operating procedure (SOP) might be hard to follow and felt that it was safer to take a break this year.

Among them is coffee stall owner Phuah Paw Pin, 68, who only trades during the festival.

“There are 14 stalls here and I’m only open for 10 days every year during the festival period.

“This year we decided not to trade and go through the hassle of implementing the SOP to follow.

“Since the temple nearby will not be hosting major events for the festival, we are not expecting many customers, ” he said.

Over in Madras Lane, several workers were seen erecting canopies for stalls ahead of the festival but on a smaller scale.

Vegetarian restaurant owner Chong Kean Hoon, who started his business there six years ago, said he would stop allowing dine-in starting Thursday, two days ahead of the festival period.

“I have 10 tables in my double-storey restaurant but we might not be able to handle all of them.

“So we will not allow dine-in but set up counters for take-away only.”

On stalls under canopies outside, Chong said there used to be about 10 stalls but so far, only two have confirmed operating this year.

“It’s only a week of festival and many traders are worried about the additional cost that will be incurred to follow the SOP.

“They rather not invest in manpower and equipment while some of them are worried about being fined if any SOP is violated, ” he said.

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival begins on Oct 17 and ends on Oct 25 this year. The festival is held on the first day of the ninth lunar month.

It is observed with much reverence by the Taoist community in the country.

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