Saturday, October 20, 2012

Feeding the Heavenly Soldiers - Nine Emperor Gods Festival 2012 @ Ampang - Day 6

Today is one of the days where the Ampang Nine Emperor Gods Temple conducts a feeding of the heavenly soldiers ceremony. The Five General Gods (五营将军) are leaders of spiritual armies and therefore their troops need to be fed. On the first, third, sixth and the ninth days are days where food offerings will be made to this spiritual army.
Putting a joss-stick in each of the food bucket.

The ceremony starts with the food being brought out and placed in rows in front of the temple. The food is in buckets, with traditional wooden buckets for white rice and metal buckets for the mix vegetables, fried noodles, fried vermicelli and fried yam slices. To ensure that the heavenly soldiers can get to it, a joss-stick is stuck in each of the food buckets. The mediums then go into trance and starts to inspect the food. They also do acts of self-immolation (with blunt, serrated swords), which is pretty interesting to watch.
A joss-stick each for the rice buckets.
Urgggh!! Nope, still not going...Can someone pass me some Ducolax or Metamucil please. The medium who is in a trance is about to hit his back with the sword. He does this several times and facing two different directions.
Skip, skip, skip to my Lou, skip to my Lou my darlin'. Flies in the offerings, shoo, fly, shoo! - A medium passing by the food offerings.

Besides feeding the heavenly soldiers, the deities also do an inspection of the kitchen, temple grounds, dormitories and even the opera house to make sure that everything is in order. This event is a little tough to photograph, for the medium in trance moves quickly and the activity covers the entire temple grounds. I gave up chasing them, and I salute Cheryl for being able to keep up and follow them. Click here to see her photos of the 6th Day of this festival.
Oh shit, the health inspectors are coming! Put on your aprons and caps...Oh wait, it is just Kow Ong Yeh.
At the end of the ceremony, the medium would come out of his trance in front of the Five General Deities' altar.

The food is then distributed amongst the devotees who are staying in the dormitories, with each area getting a bucket of white rice, fried noodles, fried vermicelli, mix vegetables and fried yam slices each. We were persistently asked to partake in the food by the volunteers, as they considered the food to be blessed. The thought of eating food that has being placed in metal buckets and out in the open for hours held me back from trying. Finally, with a little courage and a sprinkle of blind faith, we took a slice of fried yam each.
The food being distributed to the devotees and volunteers. No food offerings go to waste here. Nearest to the front is a bucket of fried yam slices and next to it are fried noodles. The noodles have been left out so long that it has imbibed with the sauce and has taken the shape of the bucket that it was place in.

After the ceremony, dark clouds rolled in, and later in the evening, a downpour followed suit. This did not dampen nor lessen the number of visitors to the temple. The number of people heading to the temple, plus the traffic jam is just mind-blowing.
Dark clouds loomed over Ampang Nan Tian Gong later in the evening.
Saturday Night Temple Fever. Photo taken at 11pm. Notice the cars backed up along Jalan Merdeka towards Pandan Mewah side.  The road is jammed towards the Spectrum side as well.

If you have missed this round of the feeding of the heavenly soldiers, you still one more chance to witness it in this year, which will be on the 9th day of this festival (23rd October 2012).

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