This is a culture sharing post about my experience on Taoism.
Since 3 years ago, I have been heading down to this 神坛 (Sin Tua) for all major praying sessions -- 兴山殿 Heng San Dian. (I'm pronouncing the chinese characters in Hokkien). Founded since 1937, Heng San Dian in Singapore holds various praying sessions cater for important chinese dates.
One of these special days was 拜天公 (Bai Tian Gong) which means praying to Heaven God).
Tuesday(31 Jan 2012) was the 9th day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar. On this special day, Hokkiens celebrate Chinese New Year by offering their prayers to the Jade Emperor Of Heaven.
It is said that during a particular Chinese New Year in the province of Hokkien dating back to Ming Dynasty, the villages were burnt, robbed and villagers were killed. The innocent villagers escaped and hid amongst the sugarcane fields. Desperate, they pray to the Jade Emperor of Heaven for safety and salvation. On the 9th day, which is also the Jade Emperor's birthday, the bandits left the villages and the villagers were saved. To date, the Hokkiens continue to count their blessings and owe their gratitude to the sugarcane plants for saving them from destruction by praying to them.
I'm a cantonese. But my mum's a Hokkien. Together, we headed down to Heng San Tian together for this praying session. Meibao came too!
For $28(individual set) or $38(family set), a praying ritual led by a taoist priest was held. The offerings are prepared for you as well. In addition, there were mediums, mascots, lion dance and dragon dance troupes! 好热闹！
The sugarcanes on either side of the house.
Patterns placed by the 'lions' after their dances
Oranges place together to form the chinese character 旺 (Wang).
Can you make out 4 numbers here?
Bestie Meibao was there throughout the session and even helped me carry offerings. Bless you!
Credits to Cun Jie
Credits to Cun Jie for taking this shot for me. :)
The God Of Fortune!
At 12am, all offerings were transferred to an open space nearby for burning.
Right before the burning process, a final praying was done on behalf of all families and friends.
If I were to pray by myself, I would've been so lost as to what to buy and offer, when to do it, how to go about doing it. What are the right things to say? Also, I have to make a trip to buy and prepare the offerings myself. I would've been so confused!
Thus, I thank each and every single friend at Heng San Tian for reminding and helping me with performing this ritual on my behalf.
Weekly trance sessions are held every Friday from 8.30pm onwards. Trance refers to this session known as 'Tiao Dang' to the Chinese, where different Gods enter mediums' body. Usually there'll be 1 medium each Friday Session. You may check with the person-in-charge as to who via their facebook page here.