Residents Calling Out People Who Burnt Sugarcane Directly on the Ground During 拜天宫


“Pai Ti Kong” is the name for the ninth day of the Chinese New Year. For the Hokkiens, it is believed to be a day of salvation. On this day, it’s usual to see people burning offerings.

However, last Sunday (29 Jan), a few netizens expressed their annoyance with inconsiderate burning rituals happening around their neighborhood on Facebook.

What is Pai Ti Kong?

Pai Ti Kong (拜天宫), which means “pray sky god”, is a celebration of the Jade Emperor’s birthday and an expression of appreciation for his protection.

The folklore behind the celebration ritual came from a tale during the Ming Dynasty, where a village in Fujian is thought to have been invaded on the first lunar month. The residents fled to a sugarcane field for refuge and prayed to the Emperor for protection.

Miraculously, the Emperor answered and guarded them for nine days.

Owing the survival of the Hokkien clan to the Emperor, they celebrate by burning sugarcane. Sugarcane (kam chia) have a coincidental phonetic similarity to “thank you” in Hokkien (kam xia).

In fact, the celebration may even be regarded to be more significant than the actual first day of Chinese New Year.

Too Lazy?

Now back to burning.

One user uploaded a picture showing burned sugarcane on the ground near Blk 247 Kim Keat Link’s void deck. The ashes remain aside, the user mentioned how close the bin for burning was—just a few metres away.

Image: Facebook (Chris Chen)

On a separate occasion, one resident posted a Facebook video of the ritual burning near Blk 44 Sims Drive.

At past midnight, the smoke from the fire affected him so much that he “woke up to the burning smell” with “watery eyes”.

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Not Pleased

The Emperor may be appeased but I doubt the neighbors are.

Image: Facebook (Chris Chen)

Some reasoned that it might have been because the bin was too small to properly fit the sugarcane, as the bin is usually used for normal incense paper.

Image: Facebook (Chris Chen)

Whatever the reason is, it is agreeable that the rituals were carried out irresponsibly, especially for the one in the video being too close to the grass patches.

I can’t imagine the deities being pleased to receive a batch of grass along with their sugarcane either.


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Featured Image: Facebook (Fafa Mus / Chris Chen)