In Penang, Kau Ong Ea is a big deal. Penangites seems to be more religious than other states, I think. We have the hungry ghost festival which is also a big occasion.
The nine-emperor god festival is a very big occasion in Penang. Rows of vegetarian foods stall sprouted all over town for nine days and the devotees of Kew Ong Yeah or Nine-Emperor will go on a nine day strict vegetarian fast. The cutleries and crockeries used for cooking and serving foods must be absolutely clean and never touched any animal products. No onions, garlics and dairy products too.
The celebration in the temples around Penang island is less bizarre. Some other temples on the mainland have fire walking ceremony where devotees tested their faith.
CJ Chan Lilian explored one temple in Penang and talked to the temple committee and also a helper there. Some of the helpers are poor and homeless people who seek shelter and food from the temple.
The celebration ends on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. In the evening, a procession with the symbolic boat will be send to sea.