Gearing up for the Jade Emperor’s birthday

GEORGE TOWN: The Hokkien community is all set to celebrate the birthday of the Jade Emperor, better known as "Thnee Kong Seh", that falls on the ninth day of Chinese New Year tomorrow.

The annual celebration, which is deemed the largest festival for the community, will be celebrated in spectacular style with a fireworks displays as in previous years.

During the festival, sugar cane stalks will be offered to the Jade Emperor and many Hokkiens have been making a beeline to markets to get their supply.

Checks by theSun at Jelutong market showed people flocking to a makeshift stall selling the long leafy stalks.

The seller, who only wanted to be known as Ooi, said it was business as usual, with devotees buying stalks despite a dip in purchasing power.

"Stalks are going for between RM8 and RM10 each depending on the size," he said.

It was the same at the Bukit Mertajam market, with many people buying sugar cane.

Among other prayer items that are sought include pineapple-shaped "gold" display items (thnee kong kim), offerings of gold paper (thnee kong poh) and other prayer paraphernalia.

The focal point of the celebration will be the Jade Emperor Temple at the foot of Penang Hill and in Chew Jetty, where thousands of devotees are expected to gather.

Chew Jetty Kongsi committee chairman Chew Choon Seng said the prayer altar would be ready by tomorrow and devotees can place their offerings tonight.

A fireworks display will be on as well.