red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

1. freshly baked red tortoise buns

What initially began as a means to supplement the income to support the expenses of the temple and to celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods Festival has over the years, become much looked forward to by Taoist devotees from near and far.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

2. a portion of the ingredients for photography purposes

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

3. one of the two electric mixers

It is said that the red tortoise-shaped buns baked by the devotee-volunteers at Sam Wong Kong temple in Batu Gajah are very much different from those sold at other places.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

4. removing dough from the mixer

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

5. cutting the dough to size

With sponsored supply of flour, yeast, sugar, oil and a “secret” ingredient, all of which are mixed with water, the dough is cut to size and shaped into tortoises. These buns are then sprayed with red colouring and sun-dried.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

6. dough ready to be shaped

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

7. devotees volunteer their time and skills to bake red tortoise buns to be sold to support the temple

Once the dough has risen significantly under the heat of the sun, they are put into steamers, and steamed for 40 minutes. As you can imagine, the number of buns baked depends on the weather.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

8. master baker sticking red beans as eyes onto the head of the tortoise bun

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

9. cutting excess paper off from the bottom of the buns

Baking a batch of tortoise buns would require about three hours. Therefore, the 100 volunteers are already at the temple before 7am to start “work”.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

10. plain tortoise buns ready to be sprayed red and then sun-dried

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

11. spraying red colour onto the buns

Every day, about 40 25kg bags of flour are used up. Each bag is enough for a hundred buns only. Wow, that’s a lot of buns!

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

12. sun-drying the buns before they are steamed

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

13. collecting the buns to be placed into steamers

Those who would like to purchase these buns, sold at RM1.60 each (or RM3.20 per pair), have to be at the temple early to collect a queue number, which is limited to one hundred a day. Buns are usually sold out by 5pm.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

14. conventional steamers at full force

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

15. modern steamers

This annual ritual starts on the eve of Nine Emperor Gods Festival and ends on the last day. Admittedly, it is a lot of work, and devotees have to go on a vegetarian diet too.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

16. a pair of tortoise buns are complimentary with every purchase of a joss pack

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

17. red tortoise buns hot off the steamer

The revenue collected from the sale of these tortoise buns are used, besides on the day-to-day running of the temple, to cover expenses incurred to celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods Festival as well as to provide complimentary vegetarian meals three times a day to devotees during the nine-day celebration.

red tortoise buns Nine Emperor Gods

18. the temple limits the sale of tortoise buns to a hundred buyers because demand outweighs supply

Sam Wong Kong (Taoist temple)
Add: 0.5Km off Jalan Tanjung Tualang from Batu Gajah, Perak.
GPS Coordinates: N 04° 28.037′ E101° 02.542′

*for non-Muslims only

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