Mane attraction: Horses steal show as devotees throng temple to make offerings to God of Prosperity
The occasion was to celebrate the last day of Chinese New Year and the devotees were queueing to make offerings to the God of Prosperity at the Loyang Tua Pek Kong temple.
About 15m away, however, two four-legged creatures were stealing the limelight, as people surrounded a makeshift pen and snapped photos on their mobile phones.
The two were horses that had been taken to the temple yesterday for good fortune and welcome the arrival of the Year of the Horse.
Madam Chia, 65, said it was the first time she had touched a horse.
"I'm expecting a grandson at the end of this month, so I hope that by touching the horse, this year would be especially lucky for my family," said the housewife.
The event coordinator of the temple, Mr Jeffrey Tan, said that they could not pass up the opportunity to bring the horses to the temple.
"We brought two horses this year because there's a Chinese saying that says good luck and fortune come in pairs," said Mr Tan, who is 56.
Previous Chinese New Year celebrations had seen a dog and a cow at the temple to celebrate their respective zodiac years, he said.
The horses, a 12-year-old white polo pony and a nine-year-old brown pony, were lent to the temple by Gallop Stable.
Mr R Shanker, director of the company, said that the two horses had been carefully selected for last night's event.
"We observed the horses' behaviour to make sure that they are used to being in the presence of huge crowds before we brought them here."
Loud noises and the smell of burning incense are also factors that may agitate the horses and extra precautions had to be taken to ensure the horses would be well-behaved at the temple.
The horses were a hit with the 8,000 or so devotees who were at the temple to celebrate yuan xiao ri, the last day of the Chinese New Year.
Although yuan xiao ri falls today, the temple typically celebrates it on the 14th day of Chinese New Year.
The event was hosted by radio station 97.2FM DJ Marcus Chen and veteran getai singer Lee Pei Fen and featured performances by a host of Chinese singers.
Queues of hungry devotees also snaked outside the performance tent where 10 food stalls served free local dishes like chicken rice and laksa.
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