GEORGE TOWN: For the first time in over a century, locations that traditionally host the elaborate Jade Emperor’s birthday (Thnee Kong Seh) celebrations are quiet this year.
At Thnee Kong Tnuah (Jade Emperor Pavilion) here in Ayer Itam, halls within the temple were only filled with a handful of devotees in each hall at any one time, praying with joss sticks and candles.
Temple volunteer Ang Lip Teik said the celebration this year was a simple and modest one.
“Many are wary of the situation, and do not want to throng the temple. We are seeing an 80% reduction in the crowd compared to previous years, ” he said at Thnee Kong Tnuah on Friday.
Ang said as they were limiting the number of people visiting the temple to 30 at any one time, there were fewer devotees visiting the temple this year.
And in the new norm, there were not as many beggars and the destitute lining the road all the way to the junction, he said.
Chew Jetty Association chairman Chew Choon Seng said this year, each family at the clan jetty observed the occasion as individual families, rather than large-scale communal-style celebrations of the past.
“It is very obvious that the festive atmosphere is lacking this year. The entire road used to be packed with locals, onlookers and tourists at this time annually.
“All we hope for is that the Jade Emperor will receive our offerings and we look forward to doing better celebrations when the pandemic is over, ” he said.
The roads near the jetty, which are usually packed with tourists and cars, were also deserted, a situation that resident Chew Cheng Chooi, 61, found to be a bit disconcerting.
“This year, every household made its own offerings.
“As my family members are not familiar with the required rites or types of offerings to make, I had to ask around and get advice from the clan association, ” confessed Cheng Chooi.
“Only a handful of members in our association are well versed with all the rites that must be performed, the types of offerings to buy and how the offering items are placed.”