Monday, 13 January 2014

癸巳歲末答謝天恩三界眾神 Thanksgiving to Heaven & Deities for Gui Si Snake Year

It's again the Thanksgiving Period for Deities and Ancestors in our Taoist & Chinese Culture.
For Year 2014 or Gui Si Snake Year, the actual day falls on 16 Jan, a Thursday – which is 16th Day of Lunar 12 Month (臘月十六日尾牙)
As everyone knows that, in Taoism, we practice Simple and Easy-going but whenever we reaches the Thanksgiving Period, most of the Taoists or Chinese will tend to be more Careful & Strict.
Why? Not that we worried that the Deities or Ancestors will be offended or punished us but, out of our Sincerity and Highest Respect to them, so we tend to offer and prepare more, such as Food Offerings or Papers.
Okay, let us moved into the Main Topic of the Preparation on the Items that being needed for the Thanksgiving Ceremony.
Thanksgiving, as from the basic understanding from the term, we know that it's a way of expressing our Thanks to the Deities & Ancestors whom had given us the necessary Blessing thru-out the whole Year. Now, before we make a Smooth Round-off for the Old Year, we express our Gratitude by making certain Necessary Offerings to them, hoping that the Deities & Ancestors will be happy and get our Sincerity and Faithful.
So what do we need to prepare (in whole)?
Firstly, you will need to know the Deity-type that you targeted to Thanks. For example, High Ranking Deities, Military-type Deities, Heavenly or Earthly-type of Deities.
If you are Thanking the High Position & Heavenly-type of Deities, than you can just prepare Fruits & Paper Offerings, but if you Thanking the Military & Earthly-type of Deities, then certain Cooked (Meat) Offerings will be needed.
Here is a quick review on the various Deities-type:
High Position & Heavenly Types (無極/太極/天界仙真)
San Qing (三清道祖)
Jade Emperor of Heaven (玉皇大天尊)
Dou Mu Yuan Jun (斗姆元君)
Nan Bei Dou Xing Jun (南北斗星君)
Pu Hua Tian Zun (普化天尊)
Tai Yi Tian Zun (太乙天尊)
San Guan Da Di (三官大帝)
Xuan Tian Shang Di (玄天上帝)
Zhang Tian Shi (張天師)
Wu Yue Da Di (五嶽大帝)
Ten Courts of Yan Luo (十殿冥王)
Jiu Tian Xuan Nv (九天玄女)
Taoist Masters (歷代道教宗師)
Military-type (神將神明)
Heavenly Marshals (天君)
Spiritual Generals (神將)
Earthly-type (民間神祇)
Earth Deity (土地神)
Cheng Huang (城隍尊神)
Door Deities (門神)

Nether-world Spiritual Beings (冥府靈祇)
Now, you know about the Deities type that you are targeting to Thank, in the following will be the items that oneself shall prepared:
Thanksgiving Food Offerings (in whole)
1) 3 Sets of Fruits (三色水果 most of 5 sets)
2) Nian Gao aka New Year Glutinous Rice Cake (年糕)
3) Fa Gao aka Huat Kueh (發糕)
4) Hong Gui Guo aka Ang Ku Kueh (紅龜粿)
5) Hong Bao/Hong Yuan aka Ang Pao/Ang Ee (紅包/紅圓 normal Bun but in Red Color)
6) Shou Tao aka Longevity Peach Bun (壽桃)
7) Shou Mian aka Longevity Noodles (壽面)
8) 12 Bowls of Vegetarian Items (十二菜碗 6 Vege & 6 Cookie Items) - Hokkien Clan
9) Tang Yuan aka Sweet Dumplings or Ee (湯圓)
10) Chun Fan aka Spring Rice (春飯 a Bowl of Cooked Rice with the Paper Spring Flower) - Hokkien Clan
11) Xie Shen Da Bing aka Big Sesame Biscult (謝神大餅) - Teochew Clan
12) 6 Preserved Root-Plant Fruits (六甜 Lotus Seed, Lotus Root, Ginger, Winter-melon, Carrot, Coconut) - Cantonese Clan
13) Jian Tui aka Sesame Balls (煎堆) - Hakka Clan
14) Shi Bing aka Sweet Persimmon (柿餅)
15) Ji Bing aka Sweet Mandrain (桔餅)
16) Hainanese Kueh with Brown Sugar Coconut (海南粿) - Hainanese Clan
17) Cai Tou Guo aka Carrot Cake (菜頭粿 Round & cooked, not those found in Hawker Center) - Hokkien, Cantonese & Teochew Clan
18) Jin Gua Gao aka Pumpkin Cake (金瓜糕 cooked) - Hokkien Clan
19) Fan Shu Gao aka Sweet Potatoes Cake (蕃薯糕 cooked/Raw) - Hokkien Clan
20) Rice Wine aka Bai Mi Jiu (白米酒)
21) Chinese Tea (上等茶)
22) 3 types of Meat Offerings (三牲 Chicken, Duck & Fish or Roast-meat, Cuttlefish & Chicken) - Mend for Military & Earth Deities Only
Thanksgiving Incenses & Paper Offerings (in whole)
1) 1 Set of Good Quality Long Incenses (長壽香 about 48 cm)
2) 1 Pack of Good Quality Short Incenses (平安香)
3) 1 Pair of Red Candles or Dou Zhu (紅燭/斗燭)
4) 1 Pair of Huang Gao Qian aka Diao Qian (黃高錢/吊錢)
5) 3 Stacks of Tian Gong Jin aka Tai Ji Jin (天公金/太極金 most of 5 sets)
6) 6 Stacks of Shou Jin aka San Bao Jin (壽金/三寶金 most of 9 sets)
7) 3 Stacks/Packs Da Gui Ren aka Men Wai Gui Ren Lu Ma Zhi (大貴人/門外貴人祿馬祇 most of 9 sets)
8) 3 Stacks/Packs Gui Ren Zhi (貴人紙 most of 9 sets)
9) 3 Stacks/Packs of Tu Di Jin (土地金 most of 5 sets)
10) 1 Set of San Jie Deng Liao (三界燈料/天公燈料)
11) Paper Robes (神袍 optional)
12) Huang Qian Jia Ma (黃錢鉀馬) - Mend for Military Deities Only
Once All the necessary Offerings are being prepared, on the 15th Night, you can actually lay them out onto the Altar.
When the timing strikes 0000 Hour, you can start to make your respect for the Thanksgiving to the Deities in your Home, Temple or Sintua.
For those who prefer to pay respect on the 16th Day Morning, you are encouraged to do that too. Remember to do it before 11.00Am. Best timing to start the honouring will be at 9.00Am.
Due to this time round, you are conducting the Honouring for the Thanksgiving Ceremony, do not send off the Paper-offerings after 15 minutes. You shall at least serve 3 rounds of Tea & Wine before sending off the Paper Offerings.
Each round of the Tea & Wine shall be 15 minutes apart. After every round of Offering the Tea & Wine, make 3 kowtows to the Deities, Thank them for the Blessing and request for New Blessing for the New Lunar Year. Do not make any Un-necessary Un-realistic Requests.
Once the 3 rounds of Tea & Wine are been Offered, send off the Paper-offerings. After sending off of the Paper-offerings, retrieved the Food items and distribute them out to Family Members and Friends. Allowed them to get the necessary Blessings too.
Remain the Nian Gao, Fa Gao and 1 set of Oranges on the Altar, only retrieved them on the 17th Day.
Once all these are being done, the Thanksgiving for the Year will considered Fully & Smoothly ended.

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