The event is held in conjunction with the 115th anniversary celebration of the Lean Wah Thong temple
PENANG is set to witness the first Tai Shang Lao Jun World Taoist float procession here next month. The procession is expected to attract thousands of people.
It will cover a route of 11.8km and will involve 100 floats from various Taoist associations, temples and shrines from Penang and other states in Malaysia as well as those from Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Thailand.
The event is organised by the Tai Seong Lau Koon Association (Lean Wah Thong) in conjunction with the 115th anniversary celebration of the Lean Wah Thong temple in Air Itam near here.
The event aims to renew interest in Taoism and its teachings, which play a significant role in Chinese culture and history.
Taoist master Ooi Kok Chuan, who is the organising chairman for the event's seminars, said Taoist had no major celebration in this country compared to those of the four main faiths.
"It is not our intention to lobby for a national holiday but we would like to hold a big celebration that will raise people's awareness of Taoism and its culture and to promote better understanding," he said at a press conference recently.
The four-day event will begin on March 1. The half-a-tonne statue of Tai Shang Lao Jun will leave its temple located high up on Penang Hill that morning.
Tai Shang Lao Jun is the Grand Pure One or Grand Supreme Elder Lord.
He is one of the three highest gods in the Taoist pantheon and is also believed to have manifested himself in the form of Laozi, the ancient philosopher who wrote Tao Te Ching.
The statue will be brought down to the car park of the Kek Lok Si Temple to be placed on the Lean Wah Thong Temple's float. Devotees can then take the opportunity to offer prayers and seek blessings.
There will be chantings of sutras at the Kek Lok Si car park on the second day followed by a forum and seminar at the Caring Society Complex the next day.
The float procession will be on the final day that is March 4. The floats, which will be left at the Han Chiang High School field overnight, will leave for the procession at 5pm.
The floats will head for Jalan Scotland, Jalan Utama, Jalan Macalister, Lebuhraya Peel, Jalan Pangkor, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Lebuh Farquhar, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Lebuh Kampung Kolam, Jalan Magazine, Jalan Datuk Keramat and finally, Jalan Air Itam.
As the floats proceed, devotees and the public can marvel at their beauty and also listen to spiritual Taoist music.
The event's sponsor Goh Choon Lye, a well-known businessman here, said 10 troupes of Taoist musicians would be playing music on the floats.
He said it would give the people a rare chance to listen to the music live, as it is not played by many people these days.
"This is going to be a very exciting show indeed," he said.
The procession is expected to end about 10pm. A police permit has been granted to close the roads temporarily for the procession. Road users are advised to plan their journeys that evening.
There will also be a photography competition throughout the four-day event. Each contestant can submit a maximum of five entries of photographs taken during the four days.
The grand prize is RM1,500, followed by RM800 for the second prize and RM500 for the third prize. There are also eight consolation prizes of RM100 each.
Meanwhile, the event's organising chairman Loh Soon Cheong said the event is expected to cost over RM1 million but the organisers will not ask for donations from the public.
The money, he said, would come from the event's sponsor.
"We advise the public not to give anyone who claims that they are collecting donations for the event," said Loh.
For enquiries, call Loh at 016-421 0199 or Choo Sai Wah at 016-478 8013.