Jade Emperor’s birthday celebrations kicks off

By Opalyn Mok
A dragon dance performance is held to celebrate the Jade Emperor’s birthday at the Chew Jetty Temple in George Town February 23, 2018. ― Pictures by Sayuti Zanudin

GEORGE TOWN, Feb 23 — The grand celebrations of the Jade Emperor’s Birthday kicked off today as the Chew Jetty temple started a procession to invite the deity to the celebrations.

The Teow Guan Teong Poh Sim Thai Tay Temple, at about 2.30pm, held lion dance, dragon dance and drum performances before inviting seven resident deities from the temple an ornately decorated dragon boat.

“The deities visited Yu Huang Da Di at the Hean Boo Thean Temple by the sea and invite him and other deities to his birthday celebrations at Chew Jetty,” Chew Jetty residents committee chairman Chew Choon Seng explained.

The statue of Yu Huang Da Di, which is the Jade Emperor’s name in Chinese, and the other deities were then taken on a procession in the ornate golden dragon boat through several streets around George Town before stopping at the Goddess of Mercy Temple.

The procession then continued on and ended at Chew Jetty where a grand altar with a long table for offerings to the Jade Emperor was set up.

After the Jade Emperor was placed on the altar later at around 8pm, devotees and the temple committee members started filling the main table.

Offerings placed on the table include fruits, “mee koo” (pink tortoise-shaped buns), “ngor siew th’ng” (pink pagoda-shaped candy), “bit chien” (skewered sweets), “bee koe” (sweet glutinous rice) along with “thnee kong kim” (gold pineapple-shaped folded paper for the Jade Emperor) and “thnee kong poh” (folded gold paper).

Slightly lower than the main altar was another long table meant for offerings for other deities, including the Jade Emperor’s soldiers and guards.

“Offerings for ‘thnee kong’ must be vegetarian but usually, devotees will offer meat, roast pig and other food to the other deities and his soldiers on the other table,” Chew said.

As it was the Jade Emperor’s birthday eve, prayers only start near midnight or on midnight so the evening leading up to midnight was filled with cultural performances and lion dance performances.

The celebrations culminated in a fireworks display at midnight which heralded the Jade Emperor’s birthday.