Pray for Goat luck
Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple hopes to bring good fortune to its devotees with three billy goats
There is a popular Chinese saying "San Yang Kai Tai", which is a greeting for an auspicious start to Spring and the New Year.
While "san yang" in the phrase translates literally to "three suns", it is also a homonym for "three goats", so aptly, the Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple on Wednesday night trotted out three billy goats for its celebrations to start off the Year of the Goat.
The temple's event coordinator, Mr Jeffrey Tan, 57, said he hopes the goats will bring good fortune to its devotees this Chinese New Year.
Some 5,000 devotees flocked to the temple that night.
Clutching joss sticks in one hand and a mobile phone in the other, some were seen snapping selfies with the goats.
Mr Tan also explained that they wanted to give city-dwelling Singaporeans an opportunity to see the animals up close.
"We try our best to bring in animals to correspond with the ones on the Chinese zodiac. We have brought in horses and dogs in the past.
"But of course, animals like tigers and dragons are out of the question," said Mr Tan, with a chuckle.
The goats will be displayed in a pen near the prayer halls until Sunday.
Mr Bay Min Han, 19, who came to the temple with his family, said he was pleasantly surprised to see the goats there.
Said the third-year Singapore Polytechnic student: "The last time I saw goats up close was five years ago at a farm. Seeing them again brings back fond memories I had with my family during that outing."
Around midnight, the crowds suddenly thinned around the enclosure as the devotees made their way towards the temple's towering statue of the God of Fortune.
Holding their smouldering joss sticks aloft, they beamed when a portly man, dressed as the deity appeared.
As if on cue, he tossed at them fistfuls of gold-coloured discs, shaped like old Chinese coins, and they scrambled to get these "heavenly" gifts, which they believe will bring them good luck. A devotee, Ms Grace Lee, who is in her 40s, said she tries her best to visit the temple every Chinese New Year to say her prayers.
Ms Lee, mother of an 11-year-old girl, said: "When I was young, I always accompanied my mum to the temple.
"Now I have a daughter and she always comes with me to pray on Chinese New Year too, for I want to keep the tradition alive."