Tag Archives: Nine God Festival

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If you are looking for information on the 2013 Nine Emperor Gods festival, please click HERE which will take you to the blog on my website.  See you there!

All the posts about the Nine Emperor Gods Festival can be found on my website.

All the posts about the Nine Emperor Gods Festival can be found on my website.

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It’s Time Again for the Nine Emperor Gods!

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival begins on Oct 4th!  At Kau Ong Yah in Ampang they are already making preparations to the grounds and the dormitory rooms are selling quickly. I’ve updated the calendar for the Ampang Festival and you can see it to the left here. Activities vary between the temples but the invitation and send-off dates are the same for all.

Wherever we celebrate – Ampang, Penang, Johor, Kajang, Singapore, Hat Yai, Muar, Sg Petani, or any of the places in between – we can look forward to good friends enjoying the blessings of the Nine Emperor Gods together.  I’ll be posting from various locations so please follow along and share with your friends.

Day 6 Rocks Ampang

From Kow Ong Yah swinging his sword about on the Opera stage to rituals of thanksgiving and dormitories full of loving friends, Day 6 at Kow Ong Yah temple in Ampang was a real feast for the senses.  There were gongs and fires and whistles and smoke.  There were traffic jams and lines for food.  A friend asked me the other day what I do in Ampang when I visit.  Well, yesterday was a great example of just how enriched my life is by this festival.  I chased the mediums through the temple grounds and tried to photograph birds being released to the heavens.  I talked to devotees and shot some portraits. I was inspired and challenged and exhausted and loved every minute of it.  I also liaised with many photographers and encouraged them to send me links to their photos.  We know that there are many ways to shoot this festival and all of you are welcome to post links to your own work here.  We can use this as a community portal – a digital version of the festival lantern pole that reaches to the skies.

So here are a few photos from yesterday.  There are many more I could share but will save them for a quieter day.

Let’s start with food.  Not only did the ladies in the kitchen prepare 3 meals for the hundreds of devotees at the temple, they also prepared 100 buckets of food to ceremonially feed the armies of the generals that protect the festival grounds.  The woks were full all day.

Members of the committee also chipped in.  Here my good friend Koh Ping and Mr Low Ching Poh help to serve food to devotees in the early morning.

Later in the day, I was treated to a delicious bowl of noodles mixed with some yummy black vinegar.

Is that enough about food?  But let’s not forget that other Malaysian passion – shopping!  

There was all that and more, including some important rituals throughout the day.  The mediums got started at the main altar with a show of strength and control.  The gods had arrived to inspect and protect the festival.

Kow Ong Yah made his way throughout the whole grounds, visiting the four corners, the altars, the kitchens and the dormitories.

 

This is an exciting time for the devotees who get to pay their personal respects to the Emperor and also receive his blessing. 

It didn’t rain all day in Ampang although we could hear the thunder booming.  The evening sky was as glorious as the colours of the festival. 

In one particularly joyous moment, members of the opera troupe brought their baby god to the main altar so that it could be part of the ritual ceremony of the evening.  

On the evenings of  days 3, 6 and 9, special prayer items are passed, person to person, from altar to altar in a ceremony that I like to call “the round and round”.  

As the crowds came back in to the temple after the ceremony, joss sticks and smoke filled the space, bringing tears to our eyes.  Meanwhile, the medium offered believers the advice of the god.

Late in to the night, crowds gathered to watch the opera performance.

It was quite a show of glitz and glamour!

And with that, I headed out in to the massive traffic jam, and drove the wrong way along the road marked “laluan sehala” just for the fun of it.  I could barely pull myself away.  Headed back up there now for more!

What to Expect on the 6th Day, October 20th

Let’s start by hoping for some blue sky for a little contrast!Saturday, October 20th is the 6th day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.  In Ampang at 2pm, the mediums will invite the gods to the temple to help perform the ritual ceremony of feeding the armies of the generals that are protecting the camp.  Buckets of food are prepared and presented, while hundreds of devotees watch over the proceedings.  Then Kow Ong Yah will inspect the grounds, starting with the 4 corners.  He will then make his rounds through the dormitories to the joy of the women staying there.

Here are a few photos from a couple of years ago, when I was there.

And here are two photos that I found while looking for these of Day 6.  Because they brought a smile to my heart, I wanted to share.

An Evening’s Invitation – and lots of photos

If you are a photographer, you need to be here!  If you love color, you need to be here! If, like me, you love high energy and friendly crowds and just plain fun, you need to be here! Don’t just take my word for it.  Check out Sean Liew’s blog for great photos and entertaining comments on yesterday at Kow Ong Yah Ampang.  I handed out a lot of cards yesterday to a lot of photographers and asked them to post their photos and send me a link.  Let’s share the joy of this festival.

I hope that you enjoy these selected images from last night when the festivities got underway with the grand procession to invite the Emperor to the temple.The excitement started building at about 5:30pm with the arrival of the dragons and lions.

Then the temple gods went for a ride in their beautiful sedan chairs accompanied by cheers and shouts to encourage Prosperity and Good Health.

Thousands of people joined the procession through Pekan Ampang.

On the banks of the Klang River, the Emperor was invited from the Heavens and escorted securely through the night back to the temple.

The fantastic glow of flourescent light!

The devotees prostrated themselves upon the arrival of the Emperor.

Fireworks seen through the feathers atop the monkey god’s head.

Mediums announced the arrival of the Emperor with unselfish acts of strength.

The umbrella was guided gently into the temple.

The devotees broke through the RELA line, impatient to be the first to pray to the Emperor.

Meanwhile, the Amoy opera got started across the street.  Monday evening will be their first full-scale performance.

By midnight, many of the devotees had called it a day, rebuilding their energies for an early morning start.

The Beauty of the World

I took this shot this morning at the Nine Emperor Gods Temple.  The Swamiji from a neighbouring Hindu temple came to pay his respects.  Such a lovely moment.  Sorry no time to post more.  Lots going on up there and the procession preparations are underway.  The lantern pole is up and ready.  It took a while to get it balanced but the fact that it is now perfect bodes well for the next 9 days.

Getting Ready At Kow Ong Yah, Ampang

Sharing photos of the Nine Emperor Gods festival is one of the highlights of my year.  That may seem silly but it’s the truth.  So here we are again!  I hope that you enjoy the 2012 blog.  I invite you to contribute to our knowledge of the festival.  Leave a comment or a link to some of your stories and photos and I will post it.Such a treat to go to the temple today, meet old friends and be part of the quiet buzz of traditions.  The vendors and the devotees will start arriving tomorrow.

I was very pleased to see that they have finally covered the gaping hole in front of the opera house. Now of course we have to be careful that we don’t trip on it, but it is much less hazardous.  And the area is fenced off so the patrons will have a seating area.  I guess that the opera troupe will arrive tomorrow too.

The office was the beehive today .  Lists of responsibilities are posted on the wall and the management of donations of rice and oil has begun. 

It was good to see Mr Lim there, with his lanterns and his grandsons helping to carry them in.  For me it felt like we were really ready to go when then lanterns were hung.  See my post on Lim of the Lanterns in 2010.

There was already food preparation for this is Malaysia!  Don’t forget to keep vegetarian if you are coming to the festival!

Last but not least, the prayers have begun.  The altar is ready for the Emperor.  The place is so beautiful now, without all the smoke that comes with the festival.

The altar to the Five Generals boasts freshly painted horses… and the dragons and phoenixes on the rooftop wait expectantly.

Schedule and Procession Route for Ninth Day at Hong Kong St Tow Boh Keong

Here is what I have heard the schedule is like for the Ninth Day, October 6th.

There will be quiet prayers to the Emperor tonight, Day 8, with special offerings of fruit and food that the Aunties are preparing right now.

Tomorrow (Day 9) the day will be busy with preparations for the evening rituals – cleaning and sharpening the swords and skewers that the mediums will use, moving the float out to the middle of the street, building the Passageway of Safekeeping.  Many devotees will come to Hong Kong St to pay their respects to the Emperor and pray for the health and prosperity of their families.At about 7pm, the Passage of Safekeeping will be ready in front of the temple and devotees will be invited to cross through the doors, as a cleansing ritual.  At about this time, the god (most likely Tiong Tua Guan Suai) will be invited to the temple and, all going well, the other gods will follow.  At this point (8pm?), the mediums from other temples will start arriving and pay their respects to the Emperor, before entering trance and calling the gods.  We can expect somewhere around 15 mediums at Hong Kong St temple.At the same time, floats from other temples in the area begin assembling on Lebuh Chulia, at the end of Hong Kong St for the procession.  These are non-Nine Emperor God temples that are showing their respect and support for Tow Boh Keong, Hong Kong St.  At latest count there are 18 temples joining the procession.

At 10pm the procession will start to move.  It takes about an hour and a half for the procession to follow the 2.5 km route and arrive at the Yeoh Jetty.  Here is the route:Hong Kong St (also known as Jln Cheong Fatt Tze) to Lebuh Carnarvon, where they make a big u-turn and come back past the temple.  Then they turn left of Lebuh Dr Lim Chwee Long for a short distance.  The next turn is left onto Lebuh Pantai, for a few blocks, then right on Gat Lebuh Chulia, then right on Pengkalan Weld and along to Yeoh Jetty.

The Tow Boh Keong banner and the VIPs will lead the procession, followed by the participating temples, and finishing with the Tow Boh Keong contributions, including Tow Pek Gong, the ceremonial boat, the yellow boat and the large float carrying the urn of the Emperor.

Things to watch for:

On Lebuh Carnarvon, there will be a time when the procession is on both sides of the street – double the excitement!

At the intersection of Lebuh Dr LChL, there is potential to intersect with the procession of the McCallum Rd temple as they head down to the jetty.

Along Lebuh Pantai there will be altars set up by families and businesses along the sides of the road and the mediums often pause there.  As we cross Lebuh Melayu a medium from the temple comes out to pay respects to the Emperor and the other gods as they pass.

As the procession turns on to Pengkalan Weld from Gat Lebuh Chulia there is the potential to meet the procession from the Burma Rd temple as they move to the jetty.

It has been suggested that the  Monkey god could help us be everywhere and do everything as he can split and become many – a whole army in fact!  Good guy to know.

Top Nine (1) from the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, Penang

It’s busy and getting busier. So, in the temporary quiet of Monday and the 7th Day, here are some shots from Tow Boh Keong, Hong Kong St. that you haven’t seen yet.  I had visions of creatively posting by theme, but if I don’t just put these here, you may never see them!

These aren’t in any particular order, but I will start with nine here, go through yesterday’s photos and then post a second nine before heading back to Penang for the grand final days of the festival.  The first one, above, shows the attention and care that go in to making the tiny rice bowls offered at the altars each day.

2. Polishing the brass for the altar of Tow Pek Gong, God of Prosperity (Day 1)

3. Some of the team members before the prayers on the eve of Day 3

4. Included so that Matt believes me that I should be outside for twilight!

5. A young man anxiously seeks advice of the deity through the medium

6. The Aunties in the kitchen are always cooking up something tasty, but this is time to cook special sweet potatoes for offerings at the evening prayers.

7. For many years, this family has had a stall on Lebuh Cintra, selling yummy vegetarian snacks and proudly flying the yellow banner.

8. The priest chants outside the temple on invitation night.

9. Sorting through the talismans just blessed with drops of blood from the medium in trance.

Travelling with Tow Boh Keong, Hong Kong Street, Penang

 

Let’s start with a photo of the Hong Kong St Temple leaving for the procession in Air Hitam (Farlim Temple) on Saturday evening. It’s been a goal/dream of mine to ride in a lion dance truck at Chinese New Year.  But this might be better.  I got to ride with Tow Pek Gong (can you see his beard blowing in the wind?), the beating drums and symbols, two awakened lions up front, and a group of guys who wanted to look very serious when I took their photo.  Here’s the view out the front, with the yellow boat in the truck leading the way along Lebuh Kimberly.The procession was great fun too.  Farlim temple sits up on a hill and I slogged up there when we first arrived to see some mediums being skewered with what I like to call “the Penang-style” implements.  Could they be a little longer!?  These guys are brave.  Later on the parade route, this guy was actually trying to smile for the camera.At one point during the procession, one of these mediums was doing a twirling action with firecrackers on the end of the skewer, like the one pictured here, and the string of firecrackers flew off and in to the crowd!  That’s crazy!I also wanted to share this photo of Kow Ong Yah, whom I hadn’t encountered in Penang in the first few days of the festival.  There is a lot more of the Tow Boh/Duo Mou worship in Penang along with the gods that I am learning come with that.  I was pleased as punch to see him and it reminded me of my good friends in Ampang and all the fun they must be having.  This really is how I like to see him!  An apparition.The procession was a good hike for the team from Hong Kong St who carried the Emperor’s yellow boat for the 8 km procession route.  We were all pretty tired by the time we got back into the trucks, and the ride home was almost surreal.  One of the lions even decided to sleep.There are so many events happening for the Nine Emperor Gods festival in Penang that I can’t possibly come close to providing a schedule for all of the temples. We are getting ready for the send off on Wednesday evening, that much I know.  Many of the temples will be making their way to the sea to send off the Emperor in a joyous mingling of fire and water.  There will be a lot of rituals and prayers at the Hong Kong St temple for the last few days of the festival, mainly in the evening.  Stay tuned.