IPOH, Jan 20 — Twenty-five years ago, videographer Steven Chan did a favour for a friend when he agreed to play the role of the “God of Prosperity” for an event.
That one event resulted in Chan being hired time and again to play the famous deity especially during the Chinese New Year season.
The 58-year-old bachelor said he was first asked to stand-in as the “God of Prosperity” in 1995 by a liquor company after the person who regularly posed for them could not make it that year.
“After that first appearance, the company asked me to continue acting for them. Later, as my popularity spread, more companies asked me to appear as their ‘God of Prosperity,’” he said, counting liquor companies and gaming companies as among his major clients.
His weight of 100 kilogrammes makes him ideal to play the part.
The “God of Prosperity” is a Chinese deity that people pray to for wealth, good fortune and protection.
Although the deity is worshipped all-year round, it is popular during Chinese New Year as normally someone will dress up as the deity and give out goodies.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Chan said when he initially started out, he was given a “God of Prosperity” costume by the liquor company.
“That silk costume, which was handmade, was considered special as it was blessed by a monk in Hong Kong,” he said.
Now, the costume worn by Chan was made in China and cost only a fraction of the first costume lent by the liquor company.
With Chinese New Year just around the corner, Chan said requests for him are starting to pile up.
“I am highly sought after only during the Chinese New Year period and aside from Perak, I also receive requests to go to Penang and Kuala Lumpur,” said Chan.
To dress up, Chan said he needs less than 30 minutes.
“I will prepare on site as it is not easy to don the costume everywhere,” he said.
“Normally clients will ask me to give out ang pow (red packets) and mandarin oranges to the people. So far I have yet to receive any weird requests.”
As age catches up, Chan is considering cutting down on his appearances.
“It is not easy to carry eight kilogrammes of weight on you,” he said, adding that the market was also getting too crowded as there were too many people playing the “God of Prosperity.”
“Worse still, they undercut the price.”