GEORGE TOWN, Feb 24 ― The Year of the Snake will be a good one for Malaysia’s economy, a deity predicted during the annual “Chneah Hoay” (flame watching) ceremony at the Hai Choo Soo (Sea Pearl) Temple in Tanjung Tokong here.
The deity, Tua Pek Kong, predicted the economy would see improvement in the first quarter to be followed by robust growth in the second and third quarter.
More than 600 of devotees crowded around the temple to pray and seek blessings in the early hours of Sunday as they awaited the announcement of the predictions.
Devotees are not allowed to enter the temple to watch the “Chneah Hoay” ceremony as only the temple committee members are allowed to conduct the ceremony and watch the predictions.
The Chneah Hoay ceremony is traditionally held on the eve of Chap Goh Meh at the temple.
During the ceremony, the deity is believed to be able to predict the country’s economy for the new year through the flames of about 100 burning joss sticks.
All lights, candles and oil lamps were also put out at the temple so that the Poh Hock Seah temple committee members can observe the flames to “read” the predictions.
The temple committee members will fan the embers of the burning joss sticks and the prediction is gathered from the height and intensity of the flames and the speed with which the embers flare up in the urn.
The embers are fanned three times.
The ceremony started at about 11.50pm and ended slightly after midnight.
According to temple committee president Datuk Lim Chooi Beng, in the first fanning, the embers from the burning joss sticks flared up after one minute which signified a “fast” growing economy for the first quarter.
“In the second fanning, the embers flared up after two minutes and it flared up to two-feet high and this showed a very good economic growth in the second quarter,” he said.
The third fanning took about five minutes to flare up, but due to the intensity and height of the flames, it also signified a good and stable economy.
“Overall, the deity predicted a growing economy for this year which is be better than the predictions of the last five years,” he said.
He added that the flames had flared up in the shape of a snake slithering up which means that the country’s economy is on its way up.
The temple has practised this Chneah Hoay ceremony for close to two centuries and it is believed to be the only temple in the country to do so every year.