Chnea Hoay / Flame Watching Ceremony
‘Chnea Hoay’ in the Hokkien dialect means flame watching. ‘Chnea Hoay’ is a flame watching ceremony that is held annually at certain temples in Penang. A well-known ‘chnea hoay’ ceremony is the one held on Chap Goh Meh or the 15th day of Chinese New Year at the Hai Choo Soo (translates as Sea Pearl) Temple at Tanjong Tokong Penang. The temple’s main deity is Tua Pek Kong, the God for Prosperity.
The ‘chnea hoay’ ceremony is to request for a prediction of the Penang’s economy for the forthcoming year from Tua Pek Kong. The prediction is based on the height and intensity of the flames as well as how fast the embers in the deity’s urn flare up during the ceremony.
The ‘chnea hoay’ ceremony normally starts at about 11.00 pm on the eve of Chap Goh Meh. When the tide rises near to midnight and the water completely covers a rock about 50 metres away in the sea fronting the temple, the fanning of the embers begin amidst clanging of cymbals. All the lights, including candles and oil lamps are put off to enable to authorised people from the temple to monitor the intensity and height of the flames.
Another temple in Penang that conducts the ‘chnea hoay’ ceremony is the Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong Temple or more popularly known as the Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas. The ’chnea hoay’ ceremony is held on the deity, Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong’s birthday on the sixth day of Chinese New Year. The ‘chnea hoay’ ceremony is to get predictions for Penang’s economy from the deity, Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong at midnight of the fifth day of Chinese New Year. This event attracts devotees not only from Penang but also Thailand and Indonesia.