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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The HOKKIEN & their "TIN GONG" festival...

For all my life, all i know was that the Hokkien celebrates the festival but didn't bother to find out the history behind the celebration until i finally attended it for the FIRST TIME in my life yesterday!!

So....after witnessing many unbelievable rituals & rare obsessions, curiosity sets me in and there i went googled for an answer, which i copied & pasted below (just in case you are as blur as i am)

i copied the below from here

The Jade Emperor (玉 皇 大 帝, Yu Huang Da Di)

The Jade Emperor is the supreme ruler of Heavens, the hades and the protector of mankind according to Chinese folklore religion and the highest ranking deity of the Taoist pantheon.
From the ninth century onwards, he was the patron deity of the Chinese imperial family. The Jade Emperor presides over Heaven and Earth just as the earthly emperors once ruled over China.
Based on one account the Jade Emperor was originally the crown prince of the kingdom of Majestic Heavenly Lights and Ornaments. At birth he emitted a bright light that filled the entire kingdom. When he was young, he was benevolent, intelligent and wise. He devoted his entire childhood to helping the needy (the poor and suffering, the deserted and single, the hungry and disabled). Furthermore, he showed respect and benevolence to both men and creatures. After his father died, he ascended the throne. He made sure that everyone in his kingdom found peace and contentment, after that he told his ministers that he wished to cultivate Dao in a mountain cave and cultivate. After 1,750 trials, each trial lasting for 120,976 years, he attained Immortality. After another a hundred million years of cultivation, he finally became the Jade Emperor.
The Jade Emperor is usually depicted seated on a throne in imperial robes, his flat-topped crown embedded with strings of pearls that dangle from the front. He holds a short, flat tablet in clasped in both hands before his chest.He looks very majestic with his flowing beard.
His birthday is celebrated on the ninth day of the Lunar New Year commonly known as “Tian Gong Dan” (天 公 誕 Festival of the Heavenly God). It is an important festival to the Taoists and Chinese community. Taoist temples throughout the world held gathering and prayers together to worship him. To beseech him to grant peace, prosperity, protection from calamities for the entire year, favorable weather conditions, and abundant harvest.
Most people are not aware that the Jade Emperor is the protector of the Buddha dharma in Buddhism. He’s called Lord Sakra or Indra or in the Shurangama Mantra (楞 嚴 咒) his name is recited as “Namo Yin Two La Ye” (南 無 因 陀 羅 耶).
According to Buddhist text he resides in “Trayastrimsa Heaven” as in Sanksrit and means "Heaven of the Thirty-three'. The Lord of the Heaven of the Thirty-three resides above our heads. There are eight heavens in the east, eight in the west, eight in the north, and eight in the south, making thirty-two; the thirty-third is located in the center of the others and is at the peak of Mount Sumeru.
'Trayastrimsa, "Heaven of the Thirty-Three", is not thirty-third in a vertical arrangement of heavens. Vertically it occupies the second position among eighteen heavens. Its name is taken from the fact that it is the central one among a group of heavens located on the same plane, with eight heavens on each of its four sides.
The lord of the central heaven, the thirty-third, is named Sakra or Indra, and in Buddhism he is a protector of the Buddha's Dharma.The Heaven of the Thirty-Three is eighty thousand yojanas high, and its city, the City of Good View, is made of the seven precious materials and is sixty thousand yojanas high. In the center of that city is Sakra's palace, which is made of the most exquisite and valuable gems.
In the past at the time of Kashyapa Buddha, Sakra was a very ordinary and a poor woman who saw a temple in ruins and vowed to restore it. Soliciting friends and relatives, she gradually gathered a group of thirty-two women. She herself was the thirty-third. Each of the thirty-three gave as much support as she could muster and with their collective effort they repaired the ruined temple. When each one died she ascended to the heavens and became ruler of her own heaven. The heaven in which Sakra, the former leader of the women, lives, is called the Trayastrimsa Heaven....

Both huby & I attended the Tin Gong celebrations yesterday but at separate locations. He was invited to his customer's place who happened to be his hometown folk so he actually had a good time bumping into many Alor Setarians !!

And I brought my boys to a good friend's family celebration. Sabrina was considered my childhood school friend as this year marked our 20 years of friendship. I think we met when we were in Form1 or Form2. After secondary school, we parted our ways with me furthering my tertiary education & she pursued her skills & followed by work. Yet we managed to keep our friendship on-going with occassional meet-ups. We used to hang out in pubs & disco back then and i can safely say our interests went along well. Not long after.... marriages followed suit with both our children came on board yet we still keep in touch.

Sabrina came from a super-holy HOKKIEN family but despite the long friendship, i never show any interest prior to this in joining their 'Tin Gong' festival. The other reason i wasn't keen was because the celebration started very late in the night as the praying session only begin at 12 midnight of the 9th day of CNY. But yesterday nite after huby went out, the boys were still very active & excited. We were reluctant to call the day off so knowing that Sabrina celebrates it, i called her up to find out what was up over her place. She excitedly told me that her parents have shifted to her eldest brother's NEW BIG MANSION........and that made me more thrilled !!
So in no time, i agreed to hop over her place. It was already 9pm so i quickly got my boys & myself changed & headed on. It was only about 15 mins drive from my house.

As expected, the interior & exterior designs of the new bungalow didn't failed to impress me!!!

Arghhh.....guess it will forever remain a dream to own a house like this heh ???
Now....... i'm already swaying out of topic. Back to the festival of the Heavenly God. If not from what i witnessed with my own eyes, i wouldn't believe how exagerate the preparations for the prayers & the festival can be. Believe me, i've never seen such obsession before as far as worshiping is concerned. And of course over at Sabrina's place, the big celebration was due to the financial capability of the family. The same festival could be celebrated moderately in other average family. So, let me share with you some of the exaggerations that i mentioned.

Here's on food........

'FATT KOU'/Cakes and noodles

BUNS made into the shape of tortoises

Cute little piggy 'kuih'
What impressed me most with the above was the fact that they were all HOME MADE by Sabrina's mom......what an effort, heh....i simply can't believe it !!!

' Tong Yuen'/Glutinous rice balls

LIVE CRABS are use to worship the God

As the family invited many relatives & friends over for the festival, the long table below was to serve buffet supper!!

Next would be the "OFFERINGS" to the God that were eventually being burn with the believe that they will be received by the God! And the amount of "GOLD" money (papers in any shapes & sizes) that were specially 'FOLDED' were truly amazing !!

Below was the mansion that was offered to the God! According to aunty, it costs about RM300+

There were many necessities accompanying the festival. One important one was of course the JOSS stick BUT for the first time in my life, i saw such a HUGE & LONG type....a 10 feet long!!

A pair of sugar cane is also a must-have.

Then there was also the barbeque of a whole lamb as well as 2 big roast pigs.......yes, u hear me right, 2 whole roast pig !!! On a usual account, others were seen offering a single roast pig (which is common) but the family being exceptionally well-doing, they have to offer their thankgivings in double the quantities i guess..... But i didn't take a photo of it because the pigs were wrapped up until the strike of 12 midnight & prayers started, the pigs will be served to all the guests.

Unfortunately we can't stay up until so late. I just hang around until 11pm ++. According to Sabrina, there will even be a display of fireworks & fire crackers but of course we were not able to have a glimpse of that as well.....what a miss !! Though my boys were not showing any sign of sleepiness, i had a feeling of fear thinking of the driving journey all alone in the late night, so leaving earlier gave me a hugh sigh of relief..... afterall i have already had a good encountering participating in the Tin Gong festival this year !!


slavemom said...

Wow.. what an elaborate offering. The family must be really well off. Must thank the gods for their blessings so that they continue to hv a smooth n good life.

wen said...

wah big house, so much food and preparation!!!!

Blur Angel said...

hi! wow.. that's a lot of offerings !! and such a big and nice house!! .hopefully I'm still not too late to wish u and your family a very Happy CHinese New Year

Annie Q said...

So big house! Really a eye opener for me lei! Ur friend Sabrina's mum put in a lot effort in doing that cake, kuih and buns!So cute, i mean the shape of the kuih and buns.

Now i know it's really a big day for Hokkien to celebrate the Tin Gong Festival!

Zara's Mama said...

big house == house work a lot. I never want to own a house that big. Because I'd experianced before.. when no maid.. you do until you die. :P

But my goodness, what a big celebration!

jacss said...

yes genie, u r right....extremely well-off so it's just right now that they pay back....haha

yeah,nice & big house just like yours, no? thanks for dropping by..

yes annie, the paos caught yr eyes also heh......me too, that's really lots of effort!!

i agree agnes, it's nice to own a big house but provided u have a few helpers around the house for housekeeping !!

Mummy to QiQi said...

wow...their offering really a lot ler....hehe....good to be rich hor...