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The Penang iconic Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam has been transformed into a fairyland of lights to usher in the Year of the Pig. Pic by NSTP/MIKAIL ONG 
The Penang iconic Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam has been transformed into a fairyland of lights to usher in the Year of the Pig. Pic by NSTP/MIKAIL ONG 

GEORGE TOWN: The iconic Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam here will be transformed into a fairyland of lights for 33 nights during the Lunar New Year season when tens of thousands of lights illuminate the biggest Buddhist temple complex in Southeast Asia.

Penangites watched the lighting ceremony to this an annual tradition last night ahead of the Chinese New Year. The event draws thousands of visitors from around the region and beyond as it is a colourful sight to behold.

Pic by STR/SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL
Pic by STR/SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL

Temple trustee Datuk Steven Ooi told the New Straits Times that the lights were a combination of modern lightings apart from traditional Chinese lanterns and LED (light emitting diode) lights in various shapes and sizes.

"For the past 30 years, we have tried to bring about a difference every year in order to attract more crowds to this 128-year-old temple.

"We go around to see how others do it so as to improve over the years," he said.

Ooi said the annual event stands out this year due to the beautiful landscapes made from lights as a lot of effort was put into the planning of annual lighting of the temple.

"You have to be here yourself to experience the effects of the beautiful landscapes," he said.

The complex will be bathed in lights for 33 days beginning Chinese New Year eve on Monday until March 4. The monastery will be illuminated all the way up to the 33.6m-tall Kuan Yin statue and pavilion.

Pic by STR/SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL
Pic by STR/SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL

The Kek Lok Si temple hosted a dinner in conjunction with its lighting ceremony last night.

The lighting ceremony was jointly performed by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and temple officials.

A spectacular display of fireworks lit the skies to culminate the ceremony, seen as a symbol of peace, luck and prosperity. Both Chow and Lim each presented a total of RM150,000 to the temple committee.

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