Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fifth Day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2011(九皇大帝) at Ampang (Day 5)

The Ampang Nan Tian Gong temple on a bright Saturday morning. It is the fifth day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.

It is a bright Saturday morning on the 1st of October 2011, and it is also the 5th day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. The previous night saw a large number of visitors/devotees. This can the attested by the photo taken at 1.10am, with still a thick stream of pedestrians as well as cars crawling towards the temple.
It is 1.10am and cars are still heading towards the temple. Looks like these people have not been out partying in KL last Friday night.

This leads to a lot of unburned, collected joss sticks and joss paper. These are carted off, and taken by a lorry to the back of the large parking lot and unceremoniously burnt in an open fire. There is a tractor to help turn and keep the pile aerated to make sure all of materials are reduced to ashes.
The final destination for the collected unburnt joss sticks and joss paper. The lorry brings them over from the temple and the tractor helps keep the pile together and occasionally aerates the burning mass.
The early bird catches Parking attendants working hard early in the morning (7.30am).

After looking at all the offerings that were given to the deities yesterday, I am contemplating the idea of blogging about the deities who are supposedly the recipients of those supplication. There are numerous deities enshrined in the temple besides the Nine Emperor Gods that is never shown to the casual visitor.

2.15pm - the weather took a turn and the heavens suddenly opened and poured down on the visitors. Some came well prepared with their brollies. The shower was very much welcomed by me as it provided a respite from the heat and all of that incense smoke billowing from the temple, that has made make me comprehend for the apparent sluggishness of the vipers at the Snake Temple in Penang. There were many buses parked at the parking lot, so I guess the temple must be chock-full of people at this moment.
Oh, no, don't let the rain come down on me. I came prepared with my brolly.
A blessing from the skies as I feel that it was a very much needed shower.

3.20pm, and despite a short period where the skies promised to clear up, it appears that the Nine Emperor Gods must have some other plans - dark clouds seems to be gathering up around the vicinity and I just heard thunder crashing. Maybe Ampang Village needs to cleanse from all the stinky tofu smell that has been going on for the past few nights. As i am writing this and editing photos for this post, the sun suddenly decided to take a peek from behind the clouds. Hmm, the weather must be crazy.

Tonight I had a late start, and looking at the number of cars parked by the roadside and also those heading towards the temple, I knew it would be quite impossible to get up close and personal with the deities, especially those in the middle chamber. I did managed to photograph the North and South Star deity altar, which is in front of the pagodas as they are housed within the pagoda and the entrance screened off with yellow cloth.
The pagoda on the left of the temple (looking at the temple) houses the North Star deity (北斗星君). The joss urn is in front of the pagoda.
The pagoda on the right houses the South Star deity (南斗星君).
View of the two pagodas that houses the North and South Star deity. Look at that crowd! Now I know how a sardine in a can feels like.

I was having a hard time trying to get a decent photo of the five generals' altar located on the right side of the temple so I entered the first chamber and tried to get photos of Marshal Tian and Lin (田府林府元帅). This altar is located on the left side of the first chamber. Either someone bumps me at the moment of the shot or I get heads bobbing up and down in the shot. Hmm, the situation does look good for me, and the atmosphere inside was getting more frantic by the minute. The temple staff had to keep on asking the worshipers to be patient and queue up to put the joss sticks in the urn. Perhaps they can institutionalise a token number system for each altar, lol. I had a little more luck though with the Jade Emperor's altar. Looks like the Jade Emperor still remembers me.
The Jade Emperor. On top of the altar housing are the characters 玉皇殿/玉皇殿 meaning the Jade Emperor's Hall. He holds a jade slab emperor's tablet with both his hands in front of him and wears the Chinese flat-board emperor's crown.

Realising that I would not be able to make much progress in here, I left for the opera stage to take some photos of the Amoy Opera characters. All the seats were taken, so you just got to stand and watch wherever you can. I was trying to make out the story as I have limited comprehension of the Hokkien dialect used. (being from Penang, the only dialect that I can converse well in is the Penang Hokkien dialect).
A lady with a scarred face laments of her sorrow.
Two siblings - the one in blue is the elder brother whilst the one in pink is one of his identical twin sisters.
The arrival of the Imperial Edict.
They kneel to receive the edict. Sound like the Emperor is looking for the twin sister as a bride. The sister unfortunately is nowhere to be found. The sister has an idea - since they are identical, she will stand in for her sister lest the family gets beheaded for disobeying the Imperial Edict.
She is veiled and led to the sedan chair. The pink cloth at the side is the 'sedan chair'.
So long, farewell, I have to say goodbye...She goes inside the 'sedan chair' and leaves. Hmmm, her feet are showing - reminds me of the Flintstones' car.
The husband of the sister (whom just left, i think) shows up afterward looking for his wife. He is a physically grotesque and mentally retarded physically and mentally challenged man.
The Imperial Court - the Emperor and his very camp eunuch.
All four characters on stage.
The child who sells flowers to support her mother with an ugly face (the scarred woman). People buy flowers from the child as they are touched by the filial act. Not too sure if it is a boy or girl.
Someone took notice of the necklace around the child's neck (so it must be a girl?) and wanted to meet the child's mother.
The mother in black (well, blue and black to be precise).
Finally found out where the musicians were hiding. This is the scene where the poor mother dies after drinking soup which was poisoned (I think).

After the show took a morbid turn, I left to get food, as it was also late and my tummy growling. I headed for the vegetarian economy rice stalls located by the side of the opera stage and proceeded to pack dinner (at 11pm!). I took some fried rice and also the braised mock meat and mushrooms plus some stir-fried cauliflower with sweet pea pods. It was RM5.50 for the whole lot, which I find a little steep (as a comparison, I can get rice with two vegetable dish and one real meat dish at Bandar Baru Ampang for about RM4.40). The vegetables were very oily, possible a good thing to keep you feel full for Chinese vegetarian meals is known to have very low staying power and you will go hungry very fast after a meal.
You can either choose to have fried rice or fried noodles or rice vermicelli. Then take a pick of the various vegetarian dishes available.
Braised mock meat with Shiitake mushrooms (香菇) and stir-fried cauliflower with sweet pea pods.

I left the temple fair at around 11.22pm when it started to drizzle lightly. I am no longer surprised to see that there were still many people heading for the temple at this hour.

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