Friday, February 18, 2005

Pai Tien Kong ( Praying to The Heavenly King )

Siew Toh took the following pictures of her family performing the Pai Tien Kong ritual.

During the Chinese New Year there are certain rituals to perform. On the 9th day of the Chinese New Year ( which was 2 days ago ) the Hokkien Chinese believe in praying to Tien Kong, the King of Heaven. Tien Kong is basically the ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Like most traditional rituals and beliefs there is a story to it. It was said that in ancient China misfortune befell a village of Hokkien clansmen. Their village was attacked by marauders and the villagers were forced to run and hide. This happened on the 9th day of Chinese New Year.

As the legend goes, the villagers found themselves hiding in a sugar cane forest. Miracously the marauders could not locate the vilagers and left soon after. When dawn broke the villagers emerged unscathed from the sugar cane forest and noticed an altar to the King of Heaven where they were hiding.

They offered their thanks and prayers to the Tien Kong to thank him for his protection and thus this event became an annual practice and has been passed down the generations till today.


Typically the Chinese offer abundant food to their deities in addition to incense and candles. For Pai Tien Kong sugar canes are usually part of the ceremony as well.


Here's Siew Toh proving to me that her mother cooked prawns as large as her palm for the ceremony :)


Burning paper offerings to Tien Kong.


Fireworks and firecrackers have been illegal in Malaysia for quite some time.


Despite the ban people still enjoy setting them off.


Fireworks have become a fixture for every race in Malaysia. It's been known to be set off ( albeit illegally ) during Hari Raya ( Eid ul-Fitr ), Chinese New Year and Deepavali.

p.s. All the Pai Tien Kong stories were sourced from a program that aired on Astro :P Also I'm not Hokkien.

posted by wyejon at Friday, February 18, 2005 (permalink) |

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