GEORGE TOWN: The sending-off of the Kitchen God before Chinese New Year may not be widely observed nowadays but one family here is still following it devoutly.
Nyonya kuih maker Yeoh Kim Lee, 75, is glad that the younger members of her family are keen to continue with the tradition.
Helping her at the altar this year was her son Teh Swee Tei, 46, who was seen arranging the thnee kuih (nian gao or kuih bakul), mandarin oranges, longans, red dates and joss paper for the annual ritual.
The sending-off of the deity is practised on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month, which was yesterday.
Yeoh said it was important to keep the tradition alive.
"Although there are different versions as to why we need to pray and make offerings to send off the Kitchen God, this ritual must be continued," Yeoh said at her house in Tanjung Tokong here yesterday.
It is believed that the Kitchen God, also known as Zhao Gun Gong, would report the merits and demerits of every Chinese household to the Jade Emperor.
The sticky thnee kuih is a must-have for the annual send-off as it helps to sweeten the deity's mood and "seal" his lips to prevent him from making any unfavourable report.
The send-off also indicates that Chinese New Year is just around the corner.
Yeoh said some households sent the Kitchen God off right after midnight or during auspicious hours of the day but she preferred to carry out the ritual at her own convenience.
"Some say an early send-off will ensure that only good things are reported.
"There are also others who believe a late send-off is a reflection that one is parting from the deity with a heavy heart," she said.
Yeoh said the family would be welcoming the deity back on the fourth day of the new year by carrying out prayers.