Penang Perspective: Jade Emperor Temple at Ayer Itam

Today marks the 9th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which is also a big celebration of the Chinese Hokkien to express their gratitude to the Jade Emperor. It is also known as the Hokkien people’s new year, and in Penang where the majority of Chinese are Hokkiens, it is usually celebrated more widely (and ‘loudly’) than the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year.

It was said that during the Song Dynasty, Chinese Hokkien refugees were saved from being caught and killed by the Mongols on the same day of the Jade Emperor’s birthday after hiding in a sugarcane farm for nine consecutive days.

Hence, as a gratitude and believing that the Jade Emperor had blessed and saved them, the Hokkiens celebrated this occasion by offering prayers (usually including sugarcane too) to the Jade Emperor.

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