A Splendid Send Off for the Emperor – the final day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang

The rains finally came to Ampang today and, poetically, it’s nice to think of it as the Emperor saying goodbye.  The cosmos has regained an order, yin and yang are properly in balance and prayers for peace and prosperity have been carried to the heavens in clouds of sandalwood smoke.

The festival days have gone by in a blur of activity.   Yesterday, the ninth day, was incredibly busy with no time to rest.  At one point I even asked the Red Cross for water as I couldn’t get through the crowds to get it myself and the heat was making me dizzy.  I took many photos, some of them through impenetrable smoke, so we’ll see what’s sharable.

It was a great day of events.  At midday, there were special prayers by a group of officials from the Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Sibu who donated a beautiful table of food and flowers for the Emperor.

In the afternoon, the spirit mediums helped devotees pray to and “feed” the soldiers of the Emperor, for the third and final time.  Then the temple grounds and buildings were inspected and blessed by Kau Ong Yah, who made the rounds to the genuflections and reverence of the devotees.

The firepit was prepared in the late afternoon inside a large fenced off area in front of the temple, making for quite a dramatic photo – black and white, yin and yang… 

At 8:15pm, the male devotees walked across some very hot burning coals to substantiate the forces of Yang for all of the Emperor’s followers.

In the midst of all of that, throughout the day, the devotees found time for private prayer, a final few games of cards and majong, and plenty of laughter and talk of plans for next year’s festival.

Over the course of the day, thousands of worshipers came to the temple to pay their respects to the Emperor, creating an eye-stinging haze inside and out.

After the Firewalking, the ceremony was held, for the third and final time, so that the temple volunteers could pay respects to each of the main altars.  One of my favourite parts of the closing evening happened around 10pm when the opera troupe performed a ritual in front of the main altar.

Over on the opera stage, there were performances at 8pm and again at 1:30am, before the sending off ceremony for the Emperor.

Then at 3:00AM devotees held their final devotional prayers and we walked the spirit Emperor back through the village of Ampang and sent him off in the back of a truck, to the river.

When we returned to the temple, the vendors were taking down their stalls, the coals from the firepit were still smoldering, and the devotees were slowly moving out of the dormitories.  It seems that I was too weary to take any photos of the clean up, which means that I must have been pretty tired.   I’ve taken photos of just about everything else! Home before light, but barely.

Lots of stories to tell and I will keep this up while I share what I have learned.  I will continue to post links here if you send me online galleries and facebook albums.  Let’s make this a place to share information and photos as a source for next year’s festival.  Thanks to all for a great couple of weeks!

15 responses to “A Splendid Send Off for the Emperor – the final day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang

  1. Hi Cheryl,

    A great festival had past and this year’s festival is the logest and we went on strict vegetarian diet for 14 days instead of the usual 10 days and everything was worth it.
    Thanks to you for such a wonderful coverage on the festival where no one else has ever done and it is indeed agreat honour that you keep everyone posted great pictures whihc will be rememebred on and on.

    by the way, I am the one who asked you to take a picture of me just before the start of the fire walking ceremony and to post in your blog cuz i wanted the photo for my own remembrance. Hope you can email to me my photo.
    Thank you.

    • @chan Yes, I have a couple of photos of you. Have only had time to go quickly through them and choose a few for the blog. I will email them to you within the next week. I enjoyed meeting you and spending the extra days at the festival this year! I heard that the fire was very hot this year – extra power?!

  2. Hi Cheryl, Thank you for your photo, the silliness of the year ended thank you for all to take such a nice picture to find his story, we see you again next year, if you free you can call my top tea………;-D

  3. Hi Cheryl,
    Got to know about your blog thru my blogger buddy-muddy estuary. You have done an amazing job with your camera and keyboard! Well done, Cheryl.

    Yes, my buddy and I have been to this temple twice during the festival to take some photos too and to take in the scenes before our eyes. The crowd was unbelievable. This was my second time to this temple.

    Do drop by at my blog http://188hughlowstreet.wordpress.com as I too blog about this festival at Tow Boo Keong Temple in Ipoh. It was a pity I did not have pictures of the temple in Ipoh as it has been a few years since I went back to my hometown. I started blogging just a few months back. I am sure you will find something worthwhile in my post.

    • @ Ipohgal Thanks for having a look at this. Quite intensive really. I will keep posting for awhile as I have a lot of material from this year that I would like to share. Then perhaps the blog can be a resource for next year’s festival.
      I would like to get to the Ipoh temple some time, but then I would have to be away from Ampang and that is not easy for me! It would be fun to visit all of the temples that have a Nine Emps Festival. Or at least the major ones. Maybe I need a team to pull that material together!

  4. Hi !
    Thanks for visiting my blog, actually I am blogging old buildings around KL area and i don’t write much. 🙂
    You have detailed of the whole event.Haaa…… did you spend the whole 9 days in this Ampang temple ?
    By the way I have added you to my bloglist totherther with my other friendly bloggers.

    Cheers !

    • @10 Thanks for the link! Yes, I was there for the 9 days – plus the extra days this year and I started going up there in August while the renovations were finishing. This is my first attempt at a blog and it is great to learn how it works. Do post more, as your work is much needed. Have you seen the map that I did with Victor Chin in the mid-90’s? Part of Chinatown. It’s now a historical document in it’s own right. I can get you a copy if you don’t have one. Just let me know and we can meet up some day and do a walk about…

  5. Hi Cheryl,

    I have enjoyed reading your blog; I have not been to this temple yet but would one day like to visit, particularly during the Nine Emperor Gods festival.

    I am from Ipoh and managed to catch the fire walking ceremony on the 9th day of the Festival at Tow Boh Keong temple, which you can read on my blog. http://www.emily2u.com/nine-emperor-gods-fire-walking-ceremony/

    This is a post that I did on the temple:

    By the way, here is another Nine Emperor Gods temple in Ipoh: http://www.nine-emperorgods.org/ They don’t have firewalking but they have one ritual where devotees cross a “ladder/bridge” that has blades on every step up and down the “ladder/bridge”! I hope to be able to get some pictures and blog about it but I will have to wait for another year!

    You can also read about the Nine Emperor Gods legend at this website.

  6. Hi Cheryl,
    I am blogging about my childhood memories in Ipoh. I have seen a similar puppet show at the Ipoh Tow Boo Keong Temple when my grandma took me there for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival way back in the early 1970s and I was about 8 or 9 years old then. I loved and enjoyed that puppet show that I had seen but I did not take any pictures as I did not have a camera then. My family was too poor to afford one. Anyway, that was the one and only puppet show I had seen and it was very memorable and I decided to blog about it. The problem was, I did not have a photo and when I came across your photos about Chinese puppets dated Oct 6, I was like, “Wow, this looked very familiar!” and I sincerely hoped you can lend me a few photos from that blog. I would loved to borrow the one showing a man and a woman with puppets in their hands and the last one showing a man pulling the puppet behind the stage. Is it alright with you? Hope to have your reply.

    • I too, love those puppets and this particular troupe is very talented. Thank you so much for asking to use the photos. Certainly you may use them – I only ask that you give credit if you can. There is probably a way to link to my post/photos right in your post… I’m just learning but I imagine that isn’t too hard to do.
      I look forward to seeing the post.

  7. Hi
    Cheryl, wow… Great ! You and your buddy,Victor have made a historical document ! Sorry to tell you that I don’t have one , hopefully I can get one.
    I will keep posting my photo blog.
    Happy writing !

  8. Hi Cheryl,
    I am extremely elated with your positive reply! Of course the photos will bear your name on them, it’s the general rule. I am currently writing about entertainments from the past in a few series and the story about puppets will be one of them. It will appear in due course. Thank you very much for your kind co-operation and cheers!

  9. Hi,

    Great pictures here. I hope to take pictures for this anually event, but the traffic do cause me a lot of headache. Salute 🙂

    • Hi Marcus! Yes, i too get irritated by the traffic on Jln Ampang! Great to meet you and again, congratulations on your honors at the KLPF. I will send you an email and we can talk about future collaboration. New blog is on the way as soon as I can clear up the traffic jam in my daily life!

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