Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ninth Day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2011(九皇大帝) at Ampang (Day 9)

The last day of the celebration has finally arrived. Around 2am in the morning, the parking lots are still full of vehicles. However, by 3am, most of the cars have cleared. Am ambulance from Ampang Hospital, with sirens wailing sped down the road pass the temple, then suddenly it turned back and stopped in front of the temple at around 3.43am. After a few minutes and some activity around the ambulance, it left in the direction of Ampang Hospital. Hopefully it isn't something serious. It was a beautify dawn breaking over the temple. I didn't get much sleep as I was busy sorting out and editing the photos.
6.55am  - the smoke from the joss burner gives it a misty, blurry look. I wonder how much carbon has been spewed out during the entire duration of the festival.
The parking lot at 2.11am on the ninth day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang. Wah, you guys don't need to work tomorrow ah??

Just like clockwork, it began to pour around midday. And after about an hours worth of heavy rain, the sky miraculously clears up again. The feeding of the heavenly soldiers began at around 2pm. After this has been carried out, it rained intermittently through the afternoon.

I am posting my photos as I go through them. Tonight's event has been very good for me, despite feeling like a chicken in an oven being roasted. Plus, I've made a new friend as well, so let me get the photos out and then I will put in the write-ups later.

The base of the fire pit (a layer of sand) has already been set up.

The priest checking the pit and was busily 'writing' on the sand with a piece of wood. I can it being divided into several sections..

I then went off for an early dinner. When I came back, the first layer of charcoal had been laid and they were in the process of compacting it down with a long wooden plank.

The next layer was added by systematically laying the sacks of charcoal on top of the existing layer.

Sacks of charcoal being laid down for the next layer. This is how they ensure a somewhat even distribution of the charcoal on the pit.

The coarse charcoal is pounded with a heavy block at the end of a pole, and then flatten out with a long wooden plank. This is done until all the charcoal set for this ceremony is used up.

Somewhere over the rainbow...It was drizzling when the fire pit was being prepared, and with the setting sun, out comes a rainbow. Not only that, it became a double rainbow a little later as the light falls lower.

Below are the pics from the lighting of the fire at 7.15pm and followed by the crossing of the fire at 8pm. Slowly adding the captions and pictures due to time constraints.

Huat ah!!! Fire leaping from the charcoal pit. I felt a bit like a chicken roasting in a wood oven whenever kerosene was added to fuel the fire. This photos is 'as it is', no touch ups but just resizing.
This gave me an idea for a Science project kit: Make your own Pacific Ring of Fire Science Kit. Guaranteed to blow away your Science teacher and burn off your competitors (earthquakes and tsunamis not included, fuel sold separately).

A few rounds of inspection by the Taoist priest.

Whoosh...Beep! Beep! No, that ain't the Road Runner, but rather it was the Nine Emperor Gods that just whizzed pass in his chariot. This is also another photo that I did not touch up. Eat my dust you DSLR wielding, tripod lugging photographers.

It's a bird! No, it's a plane...No, can this be Kow Ong Yah?!!! The fire pit almost ready for the crossing. We're waiting for the auspicious time to start.

This is the only place where a tortoise's pace would be very inappropriate.

The rear end of the procession - the Or Leng Ki carried through the fire pit.

After the fire crossing ceremony, they immediately progressed into a prayer and offering ceremony, in which they will pass all the offerings on the various altars around the temple through to the main altar and then back to their respective altars. At this point, visitors cannot put any offering or joss sticks to the various urns in the temple. Some had to hold on to their bunch of joss sticks until it has finished burning (Ouch!). Hence, don't come offering joss sticks at the end of the fire crossing ceremony. Do it very much later (in this year's case, the next prayer started at around 10pm). Members of the opera troupe did a short prayer during this ceremony.

The rows of devotees ready to pass the offerings to the inside of the temple and back. The lady photographer in a gray shirt was the one that was standing beside me during the fire crossing ceremony.

Hmmm, a variant of musical chairs perhaps? The person with an offering in his hands when the music stops is out of the game.
Give that chic a limbo whirl... She was so engrossed into taking photos of the passing round the offering ceremony that she was bending over like she was doing the limbo dance under the lantern pole! I half expected her to topple backwards at one point. Later, we did chat and I enjoyed taking photos around the temple with Andrea.

During the 10pm prayer ceremony, the opera troupe did a 15min prayer/performance in front of the altar. It was an interesting show, with a lot of strutting and twirling.

Hai yah! Kung fu punch.... Oops, I think I KOed the priest.

The opera troupe members. Andrea asked which deity does the 'doll' (in the arms of the devotee) represent and we were told that he is the patron deity of the opera performers.

There are more pictures of the prayers after the fire crossing and the closing of the festival, which I will put in later. Also, check back later for the post on the 10th day of the festival - sending the Nine Emperor Gods off at 3.30am and then there is the lowering of the lantern pole the next day that ended up with a scene that I find pretty hilarious.

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