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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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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