Thursday, September 29, 2011

Third Day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2011(九皇大帝) at Ampang (Day 3)

Below is the scene of the temple at 27 minutes past midnight on the 29th of September 2011. Just past midnight, it is now the third day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. The mood remains festive, a carryover from yesterday's procession.
It is past midnight but the night (or day) is still young.

In the morning, I was awakened by the droning sound of idling bus engines. A peep out of my balcony showed me the culprit of the noise - buses bringing in visitors/devotees parked/lined up along Jalan Merdeka. The parking lot was also filled with more buses than there were on the 2nd day.
Buses ferrying visitors/devotees along Jalan Merdeka.
A larger number of buses in the parking lot.

The third, sixth and ninth day are party feeding days for the soldiers of heaven, so I expect the atmosphere to turn a bit more religious if not more festive. Here's Cheryl Hoffmann's Nine Emperor Gods website where you can check the daily events of the Ampang Nan Tian Gong Temple and look at her lovely photographs of the Nine Emperor Gods festival.

For today, my post will concentrate a little more on the people associated with the celebration; for without these people, it would be like one buck short of a celebration.
The visitors that makes the festival, well, a festival - walking to and from the temple.
For her on the bicycle, it is her lunch break. For the stall owners, their day had just begun.
Devotees that ensure the continuous offering of joss sticks, incense paper, food items, flowers money money.
The recycling man - collecting the used newspaper wrappers.
Possible conversation by the guy on the bottom right:
Hello? Nine Emperor Gods ah? It is me Ah Beng, your faithful devotee.
This year ah, can give me a new car ah? You watch Top Gear one or not? Get me the best reviewed car, OK?
Ahh, you got no satellite TV ah?!! How can one, the temple didn't fix satellite TV for you meh?!!
Aiyah this one ah, small problem only. I get it for you and then you watch Top Gear and get me an Ah Lian (babe) magnet car, OK? Thanks. Next year I bring more tortoise buns, OK?
The ever watchful altar attendant who periodically clears the joss sticks on the urn so that you can stick yours right in.

It was a pleasant evening, with glowing blue skies as the sun dipped over the horizon. Time to go back to the task of capturing the people who are part and parcel of this festival.
Dusk at the Nan Tian Gong Temple, Ampang.
The medium in trance and his faithful assistant - rendering service to those whom have physiological or psychological problems that may benefit from a second 'alternative' opinion.
The tireless temple counter staff that ensures you get your divination blocks or sticks and makes sure that you can get a number to talk to the deities about your troubles.
The RELA men (paramilitary civil volunteer corps) who 'patrol' the temple ground to ensure 'peace'. I think they should just stick to doing this instead of being allowed to conduct raids on illegal immigrants as they are not well trained for that and that task should be left to the immigration department and the police. Their reputation is to say the least, good (read here from Al-Jazeera).
And not forgetting the RELA women.
The 'ting ting dang' (ting ting candy) seller that provides that familiar resounding pings whenever he knocks on the solid blocks of candy with a metal hammer and chisel (on top of his block of candy) to chip it away into bite sized pieces.
The foodstall sellers - this is the vegetarian popiah (spring roll) seller of which I purchased the seaweed 'chicken' popiah to try.
The dragon's beard candy makers - hand pulled and wrapped around crushed peanuts. There were three different flavours to choose from besides the original maltose sugar.
The pros religiously checking their shots. They are easily spotted as they lug around at least one bag full of heavy equipment.
We definitely cannot ignore the beggars that flock to every religious event like flies to carrion.
Last but not the least, the 'super efficient' parking tout lout attendant (blue arrow).

As usual, the food tasting part closes the post for the day. I tried the seaweed 'chicken' popiah which was pleasant in a different way. The filling of mock chicken floss, peanuts, shredded cucumbers and carrots with mayonnaise sauce and wrapped with a popiah skin and nori seaweed on the outside reminded me of a Japanese temaki roll (or California roll). The dragon's beard candy was sweet (what do you expect) but had quite a chewy feel to it once the candy mixed with the saliva in your mouth. I liked the peppermint flavoured one better as the flavour masks the sweetness rather well, unlike the strawberry flavoured one which tasted sickly sweet.
The 'chicken' seaweed popiah (spring roll).
The fillings of the popiah - mock chicken floss, peanuts, cucumbers and a bit of carrots with mayo sauce.
Dragon's beard candy - the blue ones are peppermint flavoured whilst the pink ones are strawberry flavoured.
Whoa, all this pink and blue candy stuff makes me feel like I need to go lie down for awhile to sleep off the sugar high. And perhaps I will then dream of eating a whole life-sized dragon made out of candy floss. Now that is what I call a real sweet dream.