Religion & Beliefs

Fortune Telling

Chinese Fortune Telling has been practiced through numerous dynastic periods, with four major methods still in practice across China, Taiwan and Hong Kong today. Better known as suan ming – literally meaning “fate calculating”, common methods practiced in Hong Kong today include examination of the hands, ears and use of Chinese astrology. Keep an eye out for the unique Chinese fortune telling by bird method, where a small caged bird will select a card from a large pack and on that card is your fortune!

In Chinese culture, fortune tellers often take on a role which is equivalent to management consultants and psychotherapists in Western society. They are regularly called upon to counsel business people on investment decisions. It is common place that many critical business decisions have involved the input of fortune tellers. As psychotherapists, they examine and resolve personal issues without the stigma of illness.

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Penang’s Vanishing Legacy – The Joss Stick Maker

History shows that incense comes in many forms and is used in nearly every culture. In many civilizations it is believed to be an essential element in offerings made to the Gods. Joss stick (or stick incense) is traditionally used by the Chinese during religious festival and is used extensively in East and Southeast Asia. In Penang during major festivals and the elaborate and grand worship of the Jade Emperor, joss sticks of large pillar size with affixed colorful carved dragons and phoenix motifs are offered to the Gods.

There are only a few heritage craftsmen left who practice this traditional trade as their livelihood, largely because the returns are not enticing enough. Most of the crafted joss stick are produced merely for locals who would never settle for the mass-produced versions that are nowhere near as fragrant as the handmade incense sticks for the Gods! Visit Malaysia and enter Kuan Yin Temple (Temple of the Goddess of Mercy), the oldest temple in Penang and smell the magnificent scent of sandalwood incense; get a close-up look of devotees performing their sacred ritual and discover how joss-stick played an important role in the daily offerings to the Gods.

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