The ninth day of the Chinese New Year which falls on Tuesday 31st this year is celebrated with great gaiety and pomp because it is the birthday of the Jade Emperor God of Heaven (天公诞).
There is special importance on this day because the day is also the celebration of thanksgiving especially by the Hokkien community to thank the Jade Emperor for their salvation.
Altars laden with food offerings and stalks of sugar cane were set up in front of homes on the eve of the ninth day of Chinese New Year and at the stroke of midnight, family members offered burning joss sticks and knelt in front of altars offering prayers to Jade Emperor.
String of firecrackers were let off and incense papers burnt as offerings to the Jade Emperor, including paper effigies of palace and imperial robe of the Jade Emperor.
In the Temple of Yoke Wong Tai Tay (Jade Emperor Temple) in Section 21 SEA Park, Petaling Jaya, the birthday of Jade Emperor was celebrated with great gaiety and pomp.
Hundreds of devotees thronged the temple to offer prayers and seek blessings from the deities for good health, prosperity and a good year ahead.
There were a dragon dance troupe and two lion dance troupes performing to a rousing beat of drum, gong and cymbal.
Laid on the long tables were various food offerings to the Jade Emperor such as roasted pigs, mandarin oranges, red tortoise buns and pink pagoda-shaped candies.
Legend has it that during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 AD), the Hokkien people were being persecuted and massacred by the warring army. They seek the divine help of Jade Emperor who advised them to hide in the sugarcane plantations.
When the war ended, the Hokkiens came out from their hideout at midnight on the eve of the ninth day of Chinese New Year, which is also the birthday of the Jade Emperor. So it was only on the 9th day the Hokkien were able to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Today, not only the Hokkiens but all the other Chinese dialect groups also celebrate the
occasion by offering prayers and seeking blessings from the Jade Emperor for a safe, smooth and prosperous year ahead.