Thursday, February 26, 2015

Preparing for Jade Emperor's Birthday

The Jade Emperor's birthday is on the ninth day of the Lunar New Year, which is tomorrow. This festival is commonly celebrated on a grand scale by the Chinese diaspora from Fujian province. On the night of the eight, an altar is set up with offerings, waiting for the stroke of midnight so as to be the first to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor on his birthday.
A combo miku (re tortoise bun) selling for RM88!
Today I went to Jelutong market in Penang with my mum to get some fruits, and found the market busy as ever with stalls selling everything that you need for the celebration like sugarcane, traditional cakes and even roasted suckling pig.
Dried dates and pickled fruits as offering to Jade Emperor.
A lady picking up 'ang koo kuih', and the look on the seller's face counting his profits is priceless.
This little piggy didn't come home from Jelutong market - RM208 per piggy!
Sugarcanes going like hot cakes.

I have also prepared some Chinese red papercuts. These are used to dress up fruits and stuff being put on the offering table. For me, it is more like to 'cover up' or makeover fruits that have minor blemishes or look uninteresting.
Here's some of my papercuts - to dress up the ugly persimmons.
Tadaaa!!! She looks pretty now, and red.
A pomelo with a red cap.

There is a procession to bring the Jade Emperor image from Hean Boo Thean Temple to Chew Jetty today at 3pm (26/02/2015). Thereafter, at Chew jetty, the altar will be set up for people to offer prayers from midnight onwards, so do have a look if you are there. And this joss paper pineapple that I made myself (289 pieces and two days work!) will be sent off in a big bonfire of josspaper tonight.
We call him Mr. Wilson, and he will get burnt tonite.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Litte Fig Trees

Here's an update on some of the figs that I am growing. They love the sun, and with ample water and fertiliser, their productivity is unbelievable. These are all green/yellow figs. Together with B110 that is also bearing fruit, I seemed to be having a green fig run this time around.
White Sicilian Fig - there are 13 developing synconia. They take about 3 months to ripen.
Another 6 on a side shoot.
2-3 more on a smaller, lower shoot
Above is a White Sicilian Fig that I have posted before in this post. With the end of the rainy season, the new growths are carrying 21 little figlets. This is just from a one year old fig 'tree' planted from cutting.

This is supposed to be LSU Gold, even though the source of the cutting isn't too sure. But the stalkless or 'necked' synconia reminiscent of Col de Dama figs and the rather flattened shape are characteristics of LSU Gold. I just have to wait for it to ripen.
This is somewhat 'necked', ie the fruit does not have a visible stalk - LSU Gold
Another view of the developing synconia.

Hopefully in about one and a half month's time, I get to start picking these figs, and before the birds get to them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year

Wishing all my friends and family a Happy Lunar New Year. May the Year of the Goat bring you happiness, prosperity and good health. Gong Xi Gong Xi.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thaipusam 2015 @ Penang

Thaipusam is the annual feast held in honour of the Hindu deity Murugan or Subramaniam, who particularly has a large and popular following by the Indians of South India.

Celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai, the name of the festivals comes from the Pushya (Poosam) star that reaches the highest position overhead ans is the brightest during the month of Thai, hence Thai - poosam. The Pushya stars corresponds to the Western constellation of Cancer, the three stars being gamma, delta, and theta Cancri (Asellus Borealis, Asellus Australis and theta Cancri)

Traditionally, this festival celebrates the empowerment of good against evil, with Lord Murugan being given the magical and powerful spear or javelin called Vel by his mother, Pavarti to vanquish Soorapadman, the evil Asura/demon that was terrorising the heavens.

During this festival, devotees that had previously made a vow carry burden in the form of kavadis or milk pots as a sign of thanks to Lord Murugan for his blessings and protection. This 'burden' is sometimes taken to a rather graphic level, with self-mortification that involves skin, cheek and tongue piercings.
A kavadi being given last minute touch-ups two days before the Thaipusam festival in Penang.

In Malaysia, the local Hindus who are predominantly from Southern India celebrate this festival in no lesser scale than those in India. Batu Caves in Selangor and the Waterfall Temple in Penang becomes two popular focal point for this festival.
There were a certain number of Chinese devotees who had piercings and hooks.

This year, I followed the festival in Penang, and really enjoyed the atmosphere there. Not only local Indians join in the celebration, but Chinese who believe in the divine strength of Lord Murugan do so as well, thus giving rise to a very unique representation of the festival. Viewers beware - some images might be disturbing to you.
A spear cheek piercing.
The devotee turns the piercing to keep it from becoming 'stuck' to the pierced flesh.
Hooks to pull a kavadi. There were three of them pulling a chariot-like kavadi.
Coconuts spinning as they were being smashed by devotees. The entire section turns into a wet, coconut smashing frenzy.
She is a shot put champion - Coconut smashing at Jalan Dato Keramat. This stretch of road is where a large number of coconuts were smashed.
Removing the 'burden' at the Hilltop Temple (Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple).
The piercing being removed by another, who seemed to be an expert in doing it quickly and painlessly.
Lord Murugan being carried on a palanquin at the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple
One of the priest at the temple who were involved in the ceremony of carrying Lord Murugan around the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple.