The Nine Emperor Gods Festivals, so far is for me an amazing, and out of this world’s experience. You have to be in Penang or Butterworth to witness the ever devout devotees keeping the nine days vegetarian diet. The daily rites and rituals performed by the mediums are unimaginable.

Believe you me, it is REAL! But I am glad it isn’t that extreme then the ones performed in Phuket.

At any time of the day or night, the Nine Human Sovereigns (Tai Chu), will leapt into trance like behavior and accordingly the caretakers of the Tai Chu will clothed them. By the behavior and action of the trance, the caretakers were able to identify the arrival of Tianying, Tianren, Tianzhu, Tianxin, Tianqin, Tianfu, Tianchong, Tianrui and Tianpeng.

Besides that we get to see other so called friends of the Nine Emperors God, Na Cha or Chek Kong came and went. Some are healers so paper talisman will be given to those in deed of help.

Butterworth 9 Emperor Gods Festivals

Many of the rituals and performances does not require an understanding of legends and myth. Many devotees carry out the rituals and rites without knowing that it is related closely to the legends, myths and symbols.

Faith in the beliefs of their ancestors is more important, so as long as they have faith the myths is of little concern. Faith in the power of the Nine Emperor Gods to cure sickness and confer luck, wealth, and long life is sufficient o induce devotees to participate in the rituals. The fact that their ancestors believed and participated in the rituals is evidence enough of its authenticity and efficacy. Myth, therefore, is taken as a matter of faith rather than as a matter of fact.

I had the opportunity to follow the Raja Uda Nine Emperor Gods Temple Festivals closely and was able to understand some of the events that were performed yearly. It was great to hear the explanation in English as the presiding trustee(Lor Chu) was Girlie Chuah, the first English speaking lady. I felt truly blessed. Most times, in my quest to learn more about our cultures and tradition, not many were able to give a clear explanation as they could only explained about it in Mandarin.

During the nine days of the festivals, I saw some feats and performances which quite difficult to explain or comprehend.

Welcoming Ritual

Before the commencement of the 9 days events, there was the welcoming ritual. But first the five generals, their 30,000 to 90,000 armies need to be invited.

Installing the Five Generals

Then Lor Chu Girlie will be led holding the urn under a silken umbrella through a street procession. You wont get to see her holding the urn as she is inside or under the umbrella and 2 flags of the eight trigam by 2 disciples. It was indeed a sacred rituals as, when she moved out form the temple to the special float, all bowed in reverence. Gongs, cymbals and drums are sounded. Listening to it, one can feel the grandeur and style of the occasion.

Once reaching the seaside of Pantai Bersih, it was another night one cannot forget. 3 temple seniors went down to the sea to receive the Nine Emperor Gods. It was evident a moment all bowed down again as the Great One approached.

Welcoming rites at Pantai Bersih

Purification Rituals

Some of the purification rituals of these Taoist festival includes playing with hot oil. The “Tai Chus” in their trance like hour, lights up the fire by first drinking the oil in their mouth and blowing onto the fire. These was performed for a good vigorous hour. i was quite a distance away as the heat was so intense. At first I thought the oil was not hot or boiling. I moved to have a closer look and could not go closer. The heat is real intense. As the oil flows down their body, I see no scars neither on their hands nor body. I wont make any joke of it but seeing those young men earlier not in trance and now in trance completely amazed me. Eyes closed, hands keeps inserting in hot oil to scoop into their mouth, spitting the hot oil from the mouth like dragon spewing fire. An unbelievable hour but it did happen.

Playing with Hot Oil

Herbs and spices were later added to brew for a few hours. Once it cools down, devotees each purchased a bottle for use. It can be use to rub on your tired body or any other body problems. This is how strong the belief the devotees has. Remind me of the days my dad would use these so called oil on us when we were young.

Mediums in hook and spear rod in Nine Emperor Gods Festivals in Butterworth

The next event is even scarier then Thaipusam. If you think Thaipusam is scary, you cannot imagine this! Nine mediums waiting turns to skewered their mouth with a 9 feet spear rod. One even had both done on him, the 9 feet spear rod and 36 hooks on his back. It was really too much for me, I was so scared but am impressed. I remember years ago I did not want to witness this rituals as I was too scared.

Firewalking and crossing the fort is next. Anyway, all these rituals and ceremonies preformed during the Nine Emperor Gods are a kind of purification rituals. They involve the belief the devotees had in the spirit meduims, the Taoist priest and the deities too.

It is in this tableau of eligious ceremonialism that the Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods is
most vividly seen as a community rite of cosmic renewal or rebirth. The ritual leads the community from the state of yin to the state of yang, or as the temple authorities put it, to “birth beyond death.”

As a devotee, observing the vegetarian rituals is not difficult. If one does not cook at home, the temple serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper all free. One temple impresses me greatly as they served a 10 dishes lunch or dinner meal to their vegetarian devotees.

Some even said that they now felt reborn having witnessed the many rituals Nine Emperors and his sub gods have rid them off. Read some live event and explanation, here. As I wondered at the many blessings I too received. I felt truly blessed and revived.

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