Today is the 9th day of the Chinese New Year. It also marks the day of the Pai Ti Kong Festival! Fireworks are shot from house to house to celebrate this jolly festival. The people who celebrate the joyous occasion are mainly the Hokkeins.
A long time ago, the Hokkeins from China immigrated to George Town, Penang. Now, we can find many Hokkeins generation residing there. Therefore, the biggest celebration of Pai Ti Kong in Malaysia usually happens in Penang.
The festival is celebrated by the Hokkeins because, during the Ming Dynasty, Hokkeins in Fujian were attacked by Mongol invaders. To seek safety, they prayed to the God Of Heaven, whom the Hokkeins call ‘The Jade Emperor.’
To stop the attack, the Hokkeins hid in a sugarcane field and continued seeking protection from The Jade Emperor. Hence, on the 9th day of Chinese New Year (The Jade Emperor’s birthday), the attack finally stopped. They believed The Jade Emperor had helped them. Thus, Pai Ti Kong is celebrated on the 9th day of the Chinese New Year, every year.
The must-have items during the celebration are fireworks. Aside from that, during Pai Ti Kong, the Hokkiens will load tables with traditional delicacies to honour The Jade Emperor. Furthermore, the festival will gather the Hokkeins to pray, and they will also set offering fires. The fires ablaze consist of kim cua, gold papers tied to stalks of sugarcanes. To honour The Jade Emperor’s birthday, giant incense sticks are also burnt.
Now you know why there were fireworks last night. To those who are celebrating, may you have a wonderful Pai Ti Kong or Hokkien Chinese New Year!