Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kitchen God.....'sending off'

Today is the 23rd day of the last month of the Chinese Lunar year. The 23rd day is a day where Taoists carry out the tradition of 'sending' the Zao Jun (Kitchen God) to Heaven to present his report to the Jade Emperor. I am doing what my mother taught me and what grand mother taught my mother. For some this is done on the 23rd day whilst for others (mostly Hokkiens) it will be carried out on the 24th day. Kitchen God (from what I've heard and read) is a god who is sent from Heaven to guard and over see the family's affairs. I always believe it is more for the Lady of the house. I mean the person who stands and hovers over the stove daily. After all, this god is placed in the Kitchen and most of the time (though not always) sits facing the stove. Who spends more time in the kitchen than the Lady of the house, eh? At least, in this house it is me. :) This is a picture of my Kitchen God altar. Notice the offerings I have here for the 'sending off'. Mandarin oranges, a plate of sweets, tea and new clothes (paper clothes, that is) for Zao Jun (Kitchen God) and a Thni Kueh (translated as sweet cake--cirlced in the picture). Now this sweet cake is really sticky and it is made from glutinous rice flour and sugar. Steamed for 12 hours if I'm not wrong. This cake can keep for up to a year without being refrigerated. This thni kueh is a must and for a good reason. Since this cake is sticky, the practice of must have it is really compromising for us, trying to make full use of the sticky cake to prevent the Kitchen God from speaking ill of the family in Heaven by sticking/gluing his mouth shut. My grandma told me that this way, all Kitchen God could do when Jade Emperor asks questions was nod his head whether it is good or bad since his mouth is stuck together! A tacit kind of prayer you may think but for some this is tradition. Nowadays there aren't many people who observe this tradition any more especially those living in the city. Even for my generation, the practice is slowly diminishing. Whether it is tradition or not, I still practice because.....Its Chinese New Year and it comes round only once in 365/366 days! Then and again, to keep the tradition alive, no? Now, I hope Kitchen God will submit a good report on this family this year. My thni kueh is rather small this year. Ahaahaaa.
TO all my Chinese readers.....KONG HEI FATT CHOY, KEONG HEE HUAT CHAI, GONG XI FA ever it is said, it means the same HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR! May the year of the Tiger bring you and family, Good Health, Good Luck, Good Fortune and Good Times. :o)


Arief Arf said...

Happy Chinese New Year to U!
May this year be a prosperous and a fruitful year for u!


p/s: i got souvenirs for you! said...

Hi Arie, You r so give me the souvenirs. I have waited a year for it. 1 year right? From 2009 to 2010! Anyway, TQVM for the wishes. U be good N may your year be Fruitful, Bountiful and Beautiful! Cheers. :o)

Shropshire lad and Suffolk lass said...

Happy New Year to you and your's. Hope it's a year filled with good things. Best wishes.