SINGAPORE - Retired civil servant Sim C.T., 75, opted to head to the Loyang Tua Pek Kong temple on Sunday night to mark the Jade Emperor’s birthday, as celebrating the occasion at home would require far more preparation.
“In the past, I would prepare a table of offerings at home including sugar cane with its roots intact,” Mr Sim said. On Sunday, all he had to do was buy incense paper and joss sticks at the temple located in eastern Singapore.
He said he prayed for happiness, health, good fortune and peace.
Mr Sim was among the devotees who visited the temple on Sunday night to celebrate the Jade Emperor’s birthday, which falls on Monday – the ninth day of the Chinese New Year.
The celebration of one of the most important and well-known Taoist deities started at 11pm on Sunday night. The occasion is traditionally marked by the Hokkiens, a Chinese dialect group in Singapore.
Compared with previous years, this year’s celebration was the first without restrictions since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Devotees were allowed into the temple till about 2am, unlike the past two years when it was closed earlier due to pandemic restrictions, said the temple’s event coordinator Jeffrey Tan, 66, who has worked for the temple for 26 years.
At the altar, temple staff placed a spread of longevity buns, longevity noodles, roast meats, cooked crabs, fresh fruits, red eggs and traditional sweets and confectionery.
Devotees had arrived as early as 8pm on Sunday to write their name, home address, prayers and well wishes on joss paper.
Mr Ko Woei Hin, 45, who owns a construction business, makes offerings yearly for the Jade Emperor’s birthday.
This year, Mr Ko, accompanied by his wife, offered 30 sets of joss paper as well as headwear, clothing, pineapples, buckets of ingots and a ship with sails – all made of paper – to the deity.
This year’s visitors also included a 101-year-old matriarch accompanied by her family.
The devotees’ stacks of joss paper will be burnt at about 3pm on Monday, which will mark the end of the celebration.