On the ninth day of the Chinese New Year, the Hokkien Community celebrates the birthday of the Jade Emperor God. More commonly known as the Hokkien New Year, it is often celebrated on a larger scale than the Chinese New Year itself.
While Chinese New Year involves red packets, visiting friends and relations, reunion dinners, cakes and open houses, the Hokkien New Year is celebrated with a unique offering to the Jade Emperor God at midnight of the 8th Day.
The offerings include sugar cane stalks, dried fruits, pineapple, liquor, colourful food and cakes. Constant fire crackers and firework displays can be heard late into the evening and early morning. Large amounts of joss paper and even more firecrackers will be lit at the close of the prayers.
Jade Emperor God is known to have protected the ancestors of the Hokkien community from a merciless army in China, hence the celebration in his honour every year.
In George Town, Penang, the Clan Jetties come together to celebrate on the main road with big make shift tin structures and long tables laid out for locals to lay out their offerings. It is best to be on foot if you wish to immerse yourself in this spectacle of colour, sound and smell.
Photo courtesy of Emily Ng.