Ninth day of Chinese New Year 2012
The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese Hokkiens to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven (Tiāngōng) and is traditionally the birthday of the Jade Emperor. The preparation would begin on the eighth day, and approaching midnight Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven.
Normally, tea, fruit, vegetarian food or roast pig, and gold paper are served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honored person. So if you visit any Hokkien family on this day, you pretty much see the similar thing.
After cleaning ourselves, we pray to the heaven and the worshiping alter normally faces the main entrance of our house.
Incense and gold paper were folded prior to the ceremony.
There were many details as well as pictures and symbols which tells a lot about the Chinese culture in the offerings.
As cited in website Everything about Chinese New Year Festivals, according to Taoism, the Jade Emperor lives in the 33rd heaven and governs 33 heavens; so he is the king of heavens. Jade Emperor is a vegetarian so to celebrate his birthday; Chinese prepare three bundles of long noodle, three tea cups with tea, five different kinds of fruit and six different kinds of dry vegetables to worship Jade Emperor.
Then there is the sou pau, which is shapped and coloured to look like a peach as a symbol of longevity. I thought it was really pretty, how it was stacked and wrapped in such a lovely way.
The rest were just pretty much some fruits and the huat kuih, which symbolizes wealth and fortune. Huat kuih is made of sweet potato and flour and it taste slightly sweet from natural sweetness of the sweet potato.
Although the offering to the emperor is vegetarian, people also prepare animal sacrifices, different sweet cakes and turtle cake (turtle is a symbol of longevity) for Jade Emperor’s guardian soldiers. I manage to take some photos from neighbor and a friend of mine also contributes his photo.
In order to show the sincerity and respect, many people take bath on the eighth lunar night, and then wait till midnight to begin the ceremony. Chinese would burn firecrackers and that is also the reason why we can then hear the scattered sound of fire crackers.
We burned the firecrackers and proceed with the offering ceremony.
See the big piece of colourful paper, that is the emperor’s robe. It is as big as my size, and I stand at 180cm. So yes, it is considered big and grand, all because Jade Emperor rules everything. Hence the beautiful robes as offering. Normal offerings in the temple for other gods would have a smaller size.
In case you are wondering what is the leaf and where does it comes from, that is the leaf from the sugar cane. The sugar cane is a must in the ceremony as it is tradition to have them both right and left side of the door. It is said that the sugar cane protects the family from enemies and harm. It is said that once upon a time, the Hokkiens escaped from death by hiding in a forest surrounded by the sugar canes. There were prayers to the jade emperor and he protected them from the enemies by not allowing the enemies to enter the forest. Thus the Hokkiens have since then perform the offering ceremony as a tradition in honor of the jade emperor as a token of gratitude and appreciation.
Then we kind of just light everything with fire and brunt it.
The ninth day of lunar calendar also mark the Chinese New Year for Hokkiens because when hiding in the forrest, the Hokkiens then return safely to their homes and families on the ninth day to celebrate the New Year. The celebration and tradition are so richly cultivated within the Chinese that we not only pray at home, but it was also celebrated in many other ways.
On this day, temples would be filled and packed with people and by the ninth day, many would have also already returned to work. Take our photographer’s office for instance. Wee got a clip of lion dances from her office and I simple adore the lion dances. I thought they were very cute making such noisy entrance through the company lift.
I enjoyed myself very much with the fireworks and the roasted duck. A special thanks to the Png family and Juwin, for contributing the photos and Wee for the video. Check out more photos and updates in Foodeverywhere’s facebook page. I look forward to this ceremony next year and I enjoyed the roasted duck a lot.