Friday, May 20, 2016

Bai Tin Gung or Bai Tian Gong 9th CNY Hokkien Festival - The Heaven God

16 Feb 2016 - Today my friend Ms Pamelina from Singapore asked me what is 'Bai Tin Gung' or if in mandarin we pronounce it as 'bai tian gong'.

Here I try my best to summary the story of Bai Tian Gong. Bai Tian Gong by right falls on the 9th day of CNY, an important day for the Hokkien to pray to the Heaven God. Most of us will do the prayers on the late night 8th day, or once the clock hit 12am midnight, thus 9th day as well.

Tonight was the 8th day of the first month of lunar calendar. On the 9th day, it would be the celebration known to the Hokkiens as ‘Bai Tian Gong’, which literally means ‘praying the Heaven God’.

History

The story goes back one of the Chinese New year of the Ming Dynasty, there was a bandit raid in the province of Hokkien. These intruders burned down villages, robbed, attacked and killed the villagers.

The people of the villages were in fear during the night, and some of the villagers hid themselves among the sugarcane fields. At that point of time, those villagers prayed to Heaven God (Tian Gong) for salvation and protection during their hideout.

In the end, the pursuing intruders spent many days trying to locate and hunt them but to no avail. On the ninth day of that Chinese New Year, they finally gave up and returned to their region.The Hokkiens then happily emerged from the sugar cane fields, and praising the blessings of the celestial deities and owing gratitude to the sugarcane plants for saving them from destruction.

Realizing that it was also the 9th Day of the Chinese New Year and coincidentally the birthday of Heaven God, they decided to make votive offerings and prayers to the Jade Emperor for their salvation. This is the version of the Hokkiens’ Bai Tian Gong story I get from internet.

Whichever it is, the hokkiens believe that our life and prosperity are granted by the Heaven God.

The process

On the eve of the 9th day, a pair of sugarcane plants are used by the Hokkiens usually placed one on each side of the offering table or the front door of the house. The pair of the sugarcane symbolizes unity, cooperation and strength, referring to the story as per above.

The sugarcane itself is a symbol of harmony and a token which can bring good and ’sweet’ results. The very straightness of the sugarcane stem also ensures that the Hokkiens can become a clan of honest and sincere people.





We have to prepare lots of food, fruits, candles, chinese burning papers, and many more. It goes from the most senior elderly, to the youngest to do the prayer. Each of us need to take joysticks in our hands, moving the joysticks lightly front and back, by standing up 3 times, and kneeling down 3 times.



This is the paper house for the God of Heaven. there will a lot of Hokkien playing fireworks to celebrate the important day.







And some of us write down our wishes on the 'kong ming' lantern, where the lanterns will float by themselves in the air. We believe our wishes will come true by doing so.




Well, when an Italian write in Italian words, I wonder if the god know what is he writing, hehe....




Hubby and my brother, Jonathan were trying to light up the 'kong ming' lantern.



When it is 12am, we place all the chinese burning papers near to the paper house.



And we just burnt all the papers, like a blessing to the god.


Ta da, finally successful!




Beautiful it is. Some people against it as they worried it will affect the air planes.

If you want to watch the 'Bai Tian Gong' video, here it is.






Guess you must be wondering where are the sugar canes from my house?! Mom says no budget and fussy, hence didn't buy...but it is still important though.

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