Friday, February 11, 2011
The prayers altar, decorated sugar cane and my home made mi ku (tortoise bun). I decided to make these mi ku when I couldn't get soft tortoise buns in Kuala Lumpur like those from Penang. Having grown up in a Chinese Baba and Nyonya (Straits born) family, I always looked forward to the 9th day of Chinese New Year. As a young lad growing up in Butterworth, I have many fond memories of the days we made offerings and prayers to The Jade Emperor of Heaven (Pai Thnee Kong). I really missed the taste of my grandma and mom’s home made bee koh (glutinous rice with coconut milk), huat kuih (rice flour cake with Toddy which is palm wine made from coconut flowers), ang ku (a type of nyonya kuih, glutinous rice flour with green beans filling) and mi ku (steamed tortoise buns). During that time, celebrating the 9th day of Chinese New Year was a grand family affair and it involves every family members. Everyone in our neighbourhood would be praying as well and I had a great time playing fireworks with my childhood friends. After the prayers, my mom would be chopping away the whole roast pig to share with our neighbours and we would have feast of roast pork meat as late supper (or maybe early breakfast because the prayers would only start at midnight). Ahhhhh, the good old days! Now, since my mom and dad are already in their eighties, I am taking over the reign from them in offering prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven and carry on this colourful family tradition. Before the prayers start, I drove my kids around my neighbourhood to show them how others celebrate this festival. Some houses are packed with guest and relatives; just like having a midnight party! LOL! My kids and wife helped out in preparing food and paraphernalia for the prayers. All of them, especially my daughter was every excited to participate in the prayers. As the clock struck twelve midnight, I woke up my little 3 year old boy so that he can join in to pray as well. He was equally excited as well to see the prayers altar and the decorated sugar cane which is a must have for the Hokkiens. Ok, got to go now…..to enjoy my roast pork with mi ku! LOL!