Thousands of Chinese Singaporeans are this month flocking to Kusu Island -- a tiny offshore spec of land where they hope to obtain a store of good luck for the coming year.
PILGRIMS CROWDING ONTO BOAT, BOAT ARRIVING AT ISLAND AND PEOPLE GETTING OFF, PRAYER SCENES AT TEMPLE AND PEOPLE EATING LUNCH.
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Background: Thousands of Chinese Singaporeans are this month flocking to Kusu Island -- a tiny offshore spec of land where they hope to obtain a store of good luck for the coming year. Many of them are women, praying for the birth of a son.
Normally the island of Kusu is almost deserted, but throughout October -- the ninth month in the Chinese calendar -- it's crowded every week with devotees at the alter of Tua Peh Kong, the God of Prosperity, praying for long life and good luck,
Traditionally, the pilgrims must shake prayer sticks until one falls. The inscription on the stick is interpreted by a temple spiritualist who receives money according to the wealth of the pilgrim and the satisfaction he gives.
From the temple, the pilgrims go on to the shrine of a Malay saint
- a climb of 123 steps to the top of the island's tortoise shell hill. Here, again, they offer sacrifice and pray for health, luck and wealth. Nobody is quite sure just who the saint was, but he is honoured every year during the festival.
There is just one firm rule on the island -- because the saint was a Malay and therefore presumably a Moslem, it is forbidden to bring pork onto the island for the picnic lunch. All of them manage to compromise.