Honouring Sky Grandfather (拜天公)

2 Feb 2020 (Day 9 of CNY)

Incense urn dedicated to Sky Grandfather.

Each lunar new year on the 9th day, the deity who lives in the sky and is therefore accessible to all tribes is honoured with offerings coloured in red.

My late maternal grandfather taught us to observe this yearly prayer ritual on Day 9 of the Lunar New Year. When we do this, we are also keeping memories of my grandfather alive.

The Sky Deity holds great significance among the hokkien/minnan speaking group of chinese people to which I was born in.

My cousin, Edwin, holding prayer offerings of longevity noodles, cakes and eggs while his father stood proudly at the door looked on. This continuation of spiritual legacy from one generation to the next is much appreciated by me.

Yesterday evening I dropped by the temple to join my mom, aunties, uncles and cousins. They have been observing this prayer ritual to Sky Grandfather since my late grandfather’s time.

Grandmas and grandpas making paper offering as the fire roars is a very powerful sight for me. To see elderly folks actively taking charge of the spiritual life of their families is active aging to me.
My mom and her brother making their prayers before taking their offerings to Fire. My uncle is the custodian of the temple. My late maternal grandfather was the custodian before him. Each visit to the temple for me is a visit to my childhood and renewing connection with my grandpa. He taught me many things. And I believe my understanding of spirituality partly came from him.

Folks in their 60s, 70s and 80s, some on their own, some accompanied by family members made offerings to Sky Deity.

The banner holds the title of the Sky Deity. He is known as the Jade Emperor among devotees.

Looking at the festive reds and leaping fires both energise and cleanse the souls of the wary and the weary.

My cousin, Edwin, tending to Fire, who turns all our earthly concerns into ashes, so that we have the space in our hearts to live fully for another day.

Away from the fire offerings, in the cool darkness under the red lanterns, silver haired devotees ruminated quietly on the ebbs and flows of life, and spoke affectionately of their creaky joints.

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