Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why the Hokkiens pay homage to the Emperor of Heaven with a pair of Sugarcane...

For the Taoists in Singapore, the most important day during the Lunar New Year celebration is the ninth day of the first lunar month. On this day Taoist families, especially to the Hokkiens, will hold a Emperor of Heaven ritual (拜天公, literally "heaven worship") and offer thanks-giving prayers to him for protection from evils and disasters, as well as for blessings and answering prayers. Numerous offerings such as ang ku kuih (red rice cakes in the shape of tortoise shells), fruit, vegetarian food or roast pig, and gold joss papers and incences are set out in front of the house or five-foot ways of terrace shophouses to celebrate the birthday of the Emperor of Heaven, who was believed to have been born immediately after midnight on the ninth day. One of the most important items included in the offerings is sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that has protected the Hokkiens from a certain battle calamity generations ago. During which the Hokkien hid in the sugarcane plantations.Following their liberation, the Hokkien people came out to celebrate the Chinese New Year for the first time in years.They used sugarcanes as their offering to give thanks to the Emperor of Heaven and to honour him on his birthday on the ninth day of the lunar new year.This tradition is still closely observed by the Hokkiens families in Singapore until today.

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