Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Calm Before...Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2012

Oh how fast time is almost time for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival again, after the Mooncake Festival. The calm of Ampang Old Town will soon be shattered by the arrival of the festival, with its carnival-like atmosphere and the incessant droves of devotees and curious visitors. Last year, I took on the task to post the daily on-goings of the festival from my perspective (Nine Emperor Gods 2011 - a series of continuous posts) and had a great time there. So probably this year it will run along the same line, plus a little something else.
All quite at Ampang Nan Tian Gong Temple (安邦南天宮) - the streets are empty at night and the temple all dark. This photo was taken on the night of the Mooncake Festival, 15 days before the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. The last post for last year's festival is here (Taking Down the Lantern Pole Pt. 2).

The Nine Emperor Festival is a folk culture that is unique to this region (Southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Indonesia). Whilst the festival have the connotation of worshipping of the Northern Dipper Stars (Big Dipper), the practice of vegetarianism, secret invitation of the Nine Emperors and mediums going into trance is not at all a mainstream Taoist practice of honouring the Northern Dipper Stars (禮斗); making this a must see festival for those who want to learn more about local folk culture practices.
The picture on the left was taken on the 2nd October 2012 - the workers were putting up the sheds within the compound  of the temple (by the open bed lorry). The picture on the right was taken the next day - light blue and lilac arrows indicates the whole row of sheds for the joss-stick stalls and the green arrow points to the extensions for the stalls by the walkway.

At the Ampang Nan Tian Gong (南天宮), workers were putting up the shed for the joss-stick stalls withing the temple compound a day after the Mooncake Festival. By the next day (13 days before the festival), the sheds and the extensions on the temple compound were done. This year, the celebration will fall on the 15th until the 23rd of October. The actual festivities start on the 14th, marked by the raising of the lantern pole on  the eve of the celebration  and ends on the 24th of October with the taking down of the lantern pole (click for a post on taking down of the lantern pole for last year's celebration)

For those who want to visit the Ampang Nan Tian Gong Temple for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the tentative program can be viewed at Cheryl Hoffmann's site - Nine Emperor Gods Festival. Last year she was at Penang, another Nine Emperor Gods Festival hotspot, and managed to capture the essence and the emotions of the festival through her wonderful photographs.

My links for the 2012 Nine Emperor Gods Festival @ Ampang Nan Tian Gong