If you thought Day 6 rocked at the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang, hold on to your hat as we head in to Day 8 and Day 9. The next two days are all about bringing the cosmos back into balance through special ceremonies.
You might want to look at this post on my website instead. If so, find it here: cheryljhoffmann.com
Check the schedule in the side bar for start times. Photographers should come early. These are photos that I took in 2010 of the festivities in Ampang. They will give you an idea of what you will see there during the last two days of the festival.
DAY 8 – Bridge Crossing. See my post from two years ago about Day 8. On Day 8 (Monday Oct 22) the bridge walking ceremony starts at 8pm – a time when the community can participate in a ritual of cleansing and blessing. It is the day of bringing “yin”, our watery side, into balance. Kow Ong Yah sits at the end of the bridge on a chair of nails and blesses the devotees as they cross. I love this event, because Kow Ong Yah wears his beautiful yellow robes and his hat with the long pheasant feathers and it looks really awesome. It’s a great time, because everyone gets to participate, unlike the fire-walking that is restricted to men only, and then only some men as well.
Here is what it will look like this afternoon with the vendors moved out from in front of the temple:
If we are blessed with a clear sky tonight, photographers should watch for the lovely combination colours and silhouettes.
Tonight everyone can cross the bridge, even those who haven’t kept a strict vegetarian diet. Don’t be shy! It brings luck if you cross. The mediums go first and bless the way.
DAY 9 A day of inspecting the grounds, feeding the army, Firewalking, and the glorious send-off procession. Today is about “Yang”, about balance and about the mediums acting on behalf of the community. The gods show up and the day is action packed and packed with visitors. See my post from 2010 on Day 9 at Kow Ong Yah in Ampang.
Preparation of the fire pit starts early.
The mediums are in full swing all day! Here is Kow Ong Yah proving his worth. I love this photo for the guys in the background, as well as for the energy!
If you come early, you can watch the preparation of the fire pit. The area is fenced to keep people back as it gives off a lot of heat in the early stages of burning.
Sorry, no female photographers allowed inside the fence. And also it takes press credentials to get inside for the fiery close ups.
Never mind though. If you are inside the fence, you don’t get to photograph all that goes on outside the fence ie – the feathers again!
As I once heard Joe McNally say – Don’t complain about lack of access. Make it work. Be grateful for being there and the opportunity to make images. Of course he said it with a story and much more poetically! From outside the fence, I shot this, and many more, in 2010.
The festival quiets down a bit after the firewalking and the crowds disperse. But a lot still happens after that and into the wee hours of the morning. The opera troupe comes to perform important rituals at the altar in front of the temple at about midnight.
If you are really keen (and you should be!) stay around for the procession to send the Emperor back to the heavens. It leaves the temple at about 2am. Despite the late hour, this procession is attended by thousands and is RELA’s last chance of the festival to boss us around!
Everyone is pretty tired at the end of the nine days but the send off is a joyous celebration of blessings received, as the Emperor heads off into the night to return to the heavens.
I hope to see you there to share in all of the excitement! Cheryl