Wow to Penang and the way they celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods festival! There are several Nine Emperor God temples in Penang and last night they invited the Emperor with panache. Lamps were raised, mediums went in to trance, yellow curtains were closed and the energy was awesome as the community upheld traditions. Hard to sleep at all.
I spent the evening at the lovely Tow Boh Keong temple on Hong Kong St. Their invitation ceremony is a quiet ceremony, steeped in tradition. This temple is regarded as the oldest Nine Emperor God Temple in Malaysia. The power of the temple comes from their determination to preserve the ancient rituals. The preparations are fastidious. Family members have their tasks throughout the day and in the evening they assist in setting up the altar outside the temple. Just before midnight, there was a buzz of activity as all of the old temple artifacts were put in to place, ready to invite the Emperor.
The oil lamps were filled.
The urn for the god was placed on the altar table.
In the early hours of the morning (Day 1), a Taoist priest recited prayers from a very old manuscript. For almost an hour, his melodic voice mesmerized the small group gathered at the temple. My favorite moment came at the end, when his voice dropped to a whisper and he spoke directly to the god.
With a Holah! and many smiles, the urn into which the Emperor had descended, was ceremoniously carried in to the temple. The urn was placed in the inner altar and as the curtains closed prayers for health, prosperity and balance of yin and yang began.