Toned-down celebrations for Jade Emperor's birthday in Penang this year

Celebrations for the Jade Emperor's birthday at the Thnee Kong Tnuah in Air Itam were muted this year. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Celebrations by the Hokkien community here to mark the Jade Emperor's birthday (Thnee Kong Seh) were a muted affair this year.

Roads leading up to the Thnee Kong Tnuah (Jade Emperor Pavilion) here in Ayer Itam were empty and the temple's halls were quiet, with only a few devotees seen in each hall praying with joss sticks and candles.

"Due to the ongoing movement control order, many people are staying at home and conducting their own offerings and prayers," said temple volunteer Ang Lip Teik.

He added that many are still wary of the Covid-19 situation and did not want to throng the temple as in past years.

"We are seeing an 80% reduction in the crowd compared to previous years," he said at the temple on Friday (Feb 19).

Over at the Chew Jetty, roads usually packed with tourists and cars were empty as well.

Resident Chew Cheng Chooi, 61, said it was a very different celebration this year.

"Before the Covid-19 pandemic, all residents here celebrated the Jade Emperor's birthday together. Each house would bring offerings and put it on the table for a massive celebration," said Cheng Chooi.

Meanwhile, Chew Jetty Association chairman Chew Choon Seng said each family at the clan jetty was holding their own celebration this year.

"As we cannot gather, every family is doing their own small celebration.

"All we hope is that the Jade Emperor will receive our offerings and we look forward to doing better celebrations when the pandemic is over," said Choon Seng.

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