Saturday, January 24, 2009

The God of Stove (灶神)

The 24th of 12th lunar month is the Farewell Day for The God of Stove (灶神)

In Chou Dynasty (1122 B.C.), Mr. Chang was born in a rich family. He was very wasteful and spent all the family money very quickly. After running out of money, he decided to do a small business, but without money. He sold his wife to someone as a maid. But he promised to buy her back.

Unfortunately, he was a real prodigal and couldn't change his habit. He became a beggar after spending all his wife money. Finally, he woke up and was very regret and very sorry for his wife. But he couldn't do anything.

One day he begged for food on the front of his ex-wife house. His ex-wife recognized him and brought him into kitchen for better food. Meanwhile, his ex-wife husband came back into kitchen. Mr. Chang hides in the stove very quickly and quietly. But the husband put the fire into the stove to prepare hot water for bath. Mr. Chang kept inside and didn’t make a sound to protect his ex-wife reputation. Certainly he was burnt to die.

Later, his ex-wife prayed for Mr. Chang over the kitchen stove every day. People asked her what she was doing. She always answered she worshiped the God of Stove. The name of God of Stove was spread from there.

It is therefore a tradition to offer sacrifices of sweet candies made of Lotus, carrot, winter melon, ginger, kiwi, lime, coconut slices to the Kitchen God so it can seam the mouth and he has difficulty speaking and passing on any negative reports. Ones need to be grateful and thank the Kitchen God to bring you food. It is almost the same as you pray for grace on every meal. The Chinese people just do this once a year. We need to remember and thankful what we have got, so the luck of food source will continue.

The farewell meal must be served in the early morning, because returning to heaven is a long way trip. The god of Stove must leave in the morning, so he can arrive heaven on the same day.

Interestingly enough the sacrifice is a compromise since the Kitchen God never minds the sweet candy and usually accepts it.

Same for the rest of the God, "send gods" 送神 it is believe all were report to the Jade Emperor of the family household's transgressions and good deeds.

After burning the paper sedan chairs and paper horses (with the word "送") and sprinkling three cups of liquor, people give the gods a send-off. Then it is the turn for every family to offer their memorial sacrifices to their ancestors.

Oops ! dont forget to "receive gods" burning the paper sedan chairs and paper horses (with the word "迎") on 4th of Lunar New Year. You can do it as late as possible so that the deity can have good time up there.

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