Penang Snake Temple CNY Festival 2018

This year marks the 6th Ban Ka Lan Chinese New Year celebration at the Penang Snake Temple.

The Ban Ka Lan (or Flame Watching) festival is held annually during the Chinese New Year period, as a ceremony to predict the year’s economy by observing the intensity of the flames during the ritual. The festival is also held to celebrate the birthday of the deity of the snake temple, Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong.

The Jade Emperor Temple

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The Jade Emperor Temple at the foot of Penang Hill.

During the ninth day of the Chinese New Year, Chinese Hokkien people will be celebrating the birthday of the Jade Emperor. This day is also known as the Hokkien people’s new year, and has its origin back during the Song Dynasty where Chinese Hokkien refugees were saved from being caught and killed by the Mongols on the same day of the Jade Emperor’s birthday. Hence, as gratitude and believing that the Jade Emperor had saved them, the Hokkien people soon marked this day as an important festival to be celebrated.

Most Chinese in Penang are Hokkiens, so this day is usually celebrated more widely (and ‘loudly’) here than the first day of Chinese New Year.