The Hokkien’s “Mini New Year” – Worshipping the God of Heaven (Pai Ti Kong)
For the Hokkien people, worshipping the God of Heaven is also known as "celebrating the New Year". In Taoism, the 9th day of the 1st lunar month is believed to be the day when Yang is at its peak, and it is the birthday of the God of Heaven, or the Jade Emperor.
In recent years, the worship of the God of Heaven is no longer confined to the Hokkien people; it has transcended the boundaries of place of origin and dialect and become a feature of the Chinese in Malaysia.
There is a legend about the origin of worshipping the God of Heaven.
Legend has it that during the Lunar New Year of the Ming Dynasty, Japanese invaders were killing and plundering along the coast of Fujian Province, and the local people fled for their lives with their young and old. When the Japanese were about to catch up with them and their lives were at stake, a large sugar cane forest suddenly appeared in front of them, so they fled into the sugar cane forest and escaped from the Japanese invaders.
It was the 9th day of the Lunar New Year, and the people believed that they were blessed by the God of Heaven, so they paid homage to the God of Heaven on the 9th day of the 1st lunar month for saving their lives and brought along a pair of sugarcane to show that they would not forget the blessing of being sheltered by the sugarcane grove.
Dr Liew said that the legend may not necessarily be true, but it undeniably reflects the importance that Minnan people place on worshipping the God of Heaven.
"Minnan people are a relatively strong dialect group in Malaysia, while Chinese of other origins are more devout to these folk beliefs because they are away for long periods and need the blessing and protection of the Deity. When the custom of worshipping the God of Heaven spread on the Minnan side, many dialect groups also started to set up an altar table with offerings to worship the God of Heaven on the night of the 8th day of New Year, just like the Minnan people do."