Chinese New Year eve at Thian Hock Keng Temple 天福宫 2009
This year, 2009, visitors and devotees who welcome the Chinese New Year and Year of the Ox, in Thian Hock Keng Temple were treated with a traditional Hokkien puppet show. There are limited opportunities to see such performances in Singapore so it was a wonderful experience attracting many curious audiences.
A Buddhist prayer, God of Wealth, Lion and Dragons to welcome the Year of the Ox
At about 11.30 pm, devotees moved into the main hall where a group of Buddhist Venerables led the prayers to welcome in the Year of the Ox. The visitor profiles were an interesting mix of elderly devotees, young professionals, family with young children and even Caucasian worshippers. As Thian Hock Keng’s programs were open to the public, there were large numbers of photographers both local and overseas to capture the special moments towards the New Year.
The prayers ended around Midnight and the crowds immediately moved towards the main door of Thian Hock Keng to welcome the God of Wealth, 财神.
The God of Wealth finally arrived accompanied by lion dance and dragon dance troupes. The God of Wealth was dressed in the traditional robe of a Chinese Mandarin and holding on to a large ingot. Upon arrival, the God of Wealth paid his respect to Mazu and all the deities in the temple. Following behind were the lion dances and dragon dances. Behind them were visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the God of Wealth.
After paying his respects, the God of Wealth moved around the crowds distributing candies. The God of Wealth did not have to move much as he was surrounded by visitors who wanted his candies or to pose for a photo with him.
The next program was dragon and lion dance in the front courtyard leading to “Cai Qing”, 菜青,by the Lions. After the Cai Qing, the God of Wealth presented a tray of Mandarin oranges to the temple representative. Behind him were dragons drifting in the air and lions dancing. While the drum and cymbals went on, rows of mechanized fire crackers exploded above.
Thian Hock Keng was full of festive atmosphere and cheer. The most valuable experience there was the fact that their Chinese New Year eve celebration was not a staged or a theme park performance. It was real, authentic and part of a long tradition. As an activity that is opened to the public, it has allowed many people including tourists and expatriates to experience a very unique and authentic Chinese New Year in Singapore.
No wonder the Chinese New Year eve crowd at Thian Hock Keng has been growing over the years.