|The community temple around the vicinity of my home|
It's celebrated for the spirits of the Nine Gods to descend upon the earth by possessing spirit mediums and putting them in a trance. Throughout the festival, many rituals such as skewering and fire walking ceremonies are carried out. On the last day, the Gods are sent off through a procession leading from the temple to the sea on an 'Emperor Boat' accompanied by many other colourful floats and devotees.
In Penang, this festival is celebrated on a grand scale. For myself, I have been following the 9 days vegetarian diet since I was in primary school. My grandmother used to encourage us to go vegetarian with her and that is how I got into this practice.
Since this festival is celebrated on a grand scale by many 'Kew Ong Yeah' temples all over Penang, it is very convenient to buy ready cooked vegetarian food from the vegetarian food outlets or temporary food stalls along the roads nearby the temples. However, my family prefers home cooked vegetarian dishes which to us are not difficult to prepare. Moreover, it is also more economical if the whole family is on vegetarian diet. My family have a separate set of kitchen utensils and crockery to use when preparing the dishes. Some of the utensils/crockery items are many decades old because we only use it once a year. Any utensils which have been in contact with meat, fish or anything that has a 'life' cannot be used. Why, I do not know. Maybe, the simple reason is just 'religious belief'.
Several of the temporary vegetarian food stalls along the road
Vegetarian food outlet in the vicinity of the temple
There are numerous vegetarian recipes in my collection but most of the time, I cannot prepare all of them because there are too many for just the 9 days. Usually, I will select the most preferred and add in some new recipes. For this year, I will most probably be preparing the following dishes for my family and some friends who are on vegetarian diet.
Here is a list of dishes which I will probably prepare for this year's festival. I will avoid using the processed food [such as vegetarian chicken, squids, prawns, kidney, ham, sea cucumber and mutton] as ingredients for preparing these dishes. I may add other recipes depending on the availability of the ingredients.
- Vegetarian Acar [Pickled Vegetables] - can prepare ahead
- Vegetarian Goose [Siew Ngoh] - can prepare ahead [my nephew's favorite dish]
- Braised Dual Mui Choy with Mushroom
- Stir Fry Instant Flat Noodles
- Pickled Green Vegetables
- Simple Chilli Sauce for Noodles
- Stir Fry Mixed Coloured Vegetables
- Family Style Loh Han Chai
- Fried Tofu with Tau Cheong
- Vegetarian Style Popiah Chai [Stir Fry Turnip]
- Family Style Mixed Vegetable Curry
- Vegetarian Stir Fry Rice Vermicelli [Economy Fried Beehoon]
- Red Beans Soup
- Vegetarian Potato Curry with Tofu Puffs
- Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Tau Pau
- Eight Treasure Soup
- Sesame Oil Ginger Vegetarian Egg
Here are some pictures taken at the oldest Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Penang [Hong Kong Street Tao Boo Keong] which is over 100 years old.