Penangites all set to celebrate Nine Emperor Gods Festival

GEORGE TOWN: The annual Nine Emperor Gods Festival is shaping up to be a major tourism draw for Penang this year as thousands of people are expected to celebrate the occasion this Sunday.

The country's biggest float procession is expected to take place in conjunction with the festival, as this year is also the 175th anniversary of the main Taoist temple in Penang.

As Penang is usually the centre stage of the nine-day vegetarian festival, many devotees from the region, who will observe the strict vegan diet are scheduled to participate and to attend prayers.

James Ong, the secretary of Tow Boo Keong Temple, told theSun that about 97 floats would be beautifully decorated for the parade.

The festival is mostly celebrated by Taoism devotees and it signifies the ushering in of the Goddess of the North Star, who is believed to control the Books of Life and Death.

During the ninth days of celebration, the devotees will observe a strict diet of vegetarian to cleanse their bodies and soul.

The floats will come from temples as far as Singapore.

The procession will start at the Hong Kong street and it passes through Jalan Magazine, Jalan Gurdwara, Lebuh Macallum, Jalan C Y Choy, Pengkalan Weld, Lebuh Light, Lebuh Chulia, Jalan Penang, Lebuh Carnavon before heading back to the original point.

It is understood the procession is held in conjunction with the Tow Boee Keong Temple's 175th-anniversary celebration.

David Kang, who is a member of the temple organising committee said that preparation was done in earnest to prepare for the festival on Sunday; and it includes cleaning, preparing prayer items and decorating the floats.

"Progress is about 85% now," he said, adding that everything will be completed by Thursday where many devotees start to observe their vegetarian diet.

A similar parade had taken place seven years ago where thousands of devotees flocked to pay homage during 168th-anniversary celebration back then.