Thursday, February 21, 2013



How many of you agree that our cultural practices will reveal our own identity? I do have such a belief. To me, it does not matter whether it is right or not. What matters most is its rationale of nurturing, carrying or preserving it.

Why this thought suddenly strikes my mind? This is because I am still in the Chinese New Year mood and it is also appropriate to discuss about this grand festival which begin from Feb 10 to 24, 2013. A day before my birthday.

As some of you may know that my late father was from one of the main tribes in China. We pride ourselves as Hokkein, one of the grateful community and also one the largest Chinese community in Malaysia.

I was told at a much younger age that the Jade Emperor's birthday is the grandest day of the Lunar New Year on its every ninth day. This year, it falls on Feb 18, 2013. It has been celebrated by the Chinese community especially the Hokkeins because of its significance according to its legend. Our ancestors survived persecution in Ancient China by seeking refuge in a sugar cane plantation on the Chinese New Year for nine consecutive days. They came out unharmed and believed that they were saved by the deity on the Jade Emperor's birthday. Since then, they told their offspring to observe and celebrate this day till to-date. You can see this century long practice has been cultivated to show their gratitude to the deity. It has been reflected well of this grateful community's culture.

This grand celebration has no exception in Penang, my hometown. No surprise at all to see thousands of devotees thronged the 108-year-old Thnee Kong Tnua temple in Air Itam on this day annually. The temple is located at the foot of the Penang Hill. My parents hardly prayed there, unless there is a valid reason for them to do so, as they prefer to pray at home.

I remember those old days where my parents would present various traditional offerings to the deity which included 'huat kuih' (steamed buns), bee koe (sweet glutinous rice made by my mother), ang koo (bean paste cake) that symbolises longevity, mee koo (red tortoise buns), fruits and various types and sizes of cookies designed for this particular occasion and other must have items such as sugar canes. My siblings will then stay back patiently waiting till mid-night when the prayer begun.

Thereafter, we will then have those prayed over items for our breakfast and even brought them to schools. Subsequently we, 5 out of 7 of us, migrated to Kuala Lumpur, we then stopped participating in this function unless we spend our holidays in Penang. However, my mother continued to do so till to-date.

The above folder paper effigies will be burnt at the end of the ceremony.

This memorable day still stick in my mind though I have changed my faith last couple of years. I noticed there are lots of similarities where our ancestors first prayed to the first Mighty God way before they accepted Taoism.

As such, I rather put it on record before it fades away from my memory since I am being the first generation in Malaysia. Hope, this serves as part of my legacy for my offspring.

To view my family tree, please click the link below.


James Oh!/pages/Lift-You-Up-Always-there-for-You/176685462397920

Skype me at james.oh18

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