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Going green for hungry ghost festival

BUTTERWORTH: Usually, the Tai Su Yeah (king of Hades) image comes in the form of paper effigies but in an environmentally-friendly approach, a temple here has brought in a bronze statue from Quanzhou in China.
The 4.5m bronze statue, touted as the tallest in the country, has been brought in for the Hungry Ghost Festival which starts on Tuesday.
An eye-dotting ceremony was conducted on the deity at 3am yesterday at the temple in Jalan Prai Jaya 5 behind Megamall Pinang in Prai.
Bandar Prai Jaya Phor Thor (Hungry Ghost Festival) committee deputy chairman Lim Chun Lian said with the bronze statue which cost RM150,000, some 230 members comprising locals and business community nearby could now offer prayers to the deity throughout the year.
“With a permanent statue, we can reduce the burning of paper offerings which cost about RM50,000 yearly.
“Now, we only need to spend about RM10,000 on paper offerings for the celebration.
According to Chinese Taoist belief, the gates of hell open this time of the year, allowing the spirits to roam freely and enjoy a month-long “vacation” in the human world.
Makeshift sheds and altars are set up for devotees to offer prayers and make offerings to appease wandering souls.
Lim believed they could secure more donations from devotees since the Tai Su Yeah would be available for prayers all-year round.
“With more donations, we can actually give back to the community, including donating to schools within the area,” he said.
Lim said the committee would begin its 13-day celebration from Sept 5 to 18 with a series of activities including the getai (stage singing performances).
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