CNY: Chor Gau

Of all the years I've known Alan, I've only been to his hometown once or twice to "pai tin kong". Thus, I never really understood why the celebration and what the offerings meant... but that was until I saw a cover story on this significant Hokkien custom... and here's an account on how it went...

To the Hokkiens, "Nin Chor Gau" (the ninth day of CNY) is the most important day in CNY where families come together to celebrate the birthday of Jade Emperor; known as "Tin Kong" to seek blessings with food and prayers.

The prayer usually starts after midnight... i.e. on "Nin Chor Gau" with elaborate food offerings that are arranged in a special manner:

  • First comes 3 cups of Chinese tea
  • Followed by 5 cups of Rice wine
  • Then 3 large joss sticks flanked by 2 candles
  • Food offerings would include 5 types of fruits specifically bananas (kean chio), pineapple (ong lai) which means welcoming luck
  • Six types of vegetarian items like mushroom, fungus, tofu etc...
  • Meat dishes like chicken, fish, pork, prawn...
  • Finally sweets like candy, peanuts, "ang koo kueh" (red tortoise cakes) and "kee ya kueh"
  • Hard boiled eggs dyed in red and "mee suah" (rice vermicelli) or noodles are must have items

After which, the prayer rituals begin with family members praying and burning their prayer paraphernalia just outside the house. This is then followed by a visit to the temple for more offerings and prayers.

Last but not least, everyone must eat a bowl of "mee suah" with hard boiled eggs... And that marked the end of the "pai tin kung" session. :)


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