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Dearer vegetarian fare for festival

GEORGE TOWN: Devotees willingly fork out more to go on a nine-day vegetarian diet for the Kew Ong Yeah (Nine Emperor Gods) Festival.
Despite the price increase in many vegetarian dishes, devotees who started the meat-free diet on the first day of the festival yesterday made a beeline for makeshift stalls set up along Madras Lane.
Health surveyor Uniko Lee, 24, said there was a noticeable price increase of up to RM2 for some of the dishes and pastries.
“I go on a vegetarian diet every year and I have anticipated the increase as the price of vegetarian food has always been expensive,” she said, adding that she started her vegetarian diet a day earlier on Thursday.
“This is the first year I am on the vegetarian diet as I want to pray for a smooth-sailing career and better health.
“The price may be steep but we are doing this to cleanse ourselves,” Khor said.
Air-condition technician Wong Leong Hooi, 66, said the price of vegetarian food might be on the rise but this would not stop him from continuing to observe the diet which he started more than 20 years ago.
“It is a once-a-year thing to purify the mind and spirit, and I do it with my family. We rarely cook, so we usually eat out,” he added.
The vegetarian dishes are dearer by 10sen to 20sen this year, said Lee Eng Kok who is the chairman among the traders at Madras Lane.
Lee, 56, who sells stir-fried dishes, noodles, economy rice, vegetarian lor bak and popiah, said they tried to keep the price increase to a minimum.
The Kew Ong Yeah festival begins on the first day of the ninth lunar month and during this period, devotees will partake of a strict vegetarian diet.
It is dedicated to the nine sons of Dou Mu, the Goddess of the North Star, who is believed to control the Books of Life and Death.
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