Saturday, February 04, 2017

Divine prediction... Fire Watching at Penang Ban Ka Lan Snake Temple

Annually, on the 6th day of the Lunar New Year, the Penang Snake Temple host a fire watching ceremony as it is the patron deity Chor Soo Kong's birthday. The festivities start on the night of the 5th day of the Lunar New Year with various cultural performances and devotees will throng the temple to offer prayer to Chor Soo Kong on the eve of his birthday.

Getting them lit... Devotees throng to the Snake Temple to offer joss-sticks and candles on the eve of Chor Soo Kong's birthday.
Deep in prayer...the never ending flow of devotees that come to pray to Chor Soo Kong on the eve of his birthday.

As midnight approaches, an entourage will arrive with Taoist priest and a censer burner on a wooden carrier that will be placed in front of the deity on the main altar. After a short ceremony, joss sticks will be lit and passed to the committee members of the temple. These joss-sticks are then collected back after the members have offered their prayers and the tops snapped off and placed into the censer. The celebrant will then start the fanning until the embers burst into flames. The intensity, height and durability of this flame that is used as a prediction of Penang's quarterly economic state. This process will then be repeated two more times to obtain the prediction for the entire year.

When all three flames have been observed, the celebrant adds a sandalwood block and powder, and all present will rush forward to be blessed by the sandalwood smoke from the burner. When all inside have had their 'blessings', the censer and the carrier are taken out of the temple. There will then be other Chor Soo Kong temples who will also come with their censer in a carrier basket and perform the fire watching ceremony, which is usually used to predict their member's or organisation's luck in the coming year (as opposed to the entire state of Penang in the first one).

Flames that predict the economic state of Penang... the fire watching ceremony of Penang Snake Temple.

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