Smaller, but still meaningful


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 18 Oct 2020

Devoted: People lining up to enter Kuan Im See temple in Burmah Road to perform their prayers in conjunction with the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. — ZAINUDIN AHAD/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Although this year’s Nine Emperor Gods Festival is being scaled down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, devotees are still observing their nine-day vegetarian diet.

Pharmaceutical executive James Chee, 39, said he actually looked forward to enjoying the delicious vegetarian meals and delicacies which are sold once a year during the festival.

“I started my vegetarian diet on Friday to pray for good health and for the pandemic to end soon.

“I love eating fen tiao (a delicacy with peanut fillings) and sui jing gao (a kuih infused with banana or pandan flavour), ” he said

Chee noted there were fewer vegetarian stalls this year but said this was understandable due to the pandemic.Muted affair: Devotees praying at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street.Muted affair: Devotees praying at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street.

“I decided to leave my children at home as they are below 12 years old and belonged to the high-risk category, ” he said when met at a vegetarian stall along Madras Lane yesterday.

Vegetarian stall trader Leng Leong Fatt, 49, said he was enjoying brisk business.

“There are only two stalls selling vegetarian meals here and business is definitely better compared to last year. People usually start coming in after 6pm.

“I have been selling vegetarian meals here for the past 20 years and this is the first time we have had to limit the number of customers who dined in, ” he said.

“Due to the strict standard operating procedure (SOP), we encourage takeaway orders.

“For those who prefer to dine-in, only 50 customers are allowed at any one time, ” he said.

Drinks seller Lim Kok Eng, 56, who has been doing business here for the past 17 years, said he would be operating from 8am to 1.30am throughout the nine days.

“I was worried that business would be slow due to the pandemic, but it has turned out well.

“In the previous years, the whole street was filled with vegetarian stalls but this year, only two stalls are selling vegetarian meals, ” he said.

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival started on Friday and will end on Oct 25.

The festival also coincides with the Navarathri Festival, where Hindus devotees also follow a strict vegetarian diet.

Devotee V. Kandasamy said the Navarathri Festival celebration was very quiet this year due to the pandemic.

“I celebrate the festival every year and this is the first time that we will not have a chariot procession.

“This year, there are also no free vegetarian meals at the temple for devotees. They only pack the food for us to take home.

“I am thankful that we are still allowed to enter the temple to perform prayers, ” he said at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street.

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