Saturday, 24 October 2009

a little about The Nine Emperor Gods Festival ....

today on the way home in the cab, we were discussing with the driver about the Festivals on in Singapore and in particular one that was on this weekend..... he proceeded to tell us all about the Nine Emperor Gods Festival and which explained why all the flags are flying around our area this past week or so...

.....on arriving home I proceeded to hit the 'google' button and learn a little more about this nine day celebration. The following is what I have come up with.... hope that you find it interesting and you now know a little more about the culture of this wonderful country.

above image taken by sampura in Nov 2006
released from copywrite:
Photo is of Temple volunteers in white attending to the sedan chair, in which the unseen Nine Emperor Gods are believed to be seated in...

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is a nine-day celebration observed primarily in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The Gods Festival popularly called the Nine Emperor Gods Festival takes place during the month of October every year in the premises of the Kiu Ong Yiah Temple in Singapore. The Gods Festival (Nine Emperor Gods Festival) is celebrated to seek blessings from the Nine Emperor Gods and pray for their own prosperity, longevity and health.

The Festival in Singapore is celebrated through nine days of colorful street parades, wayangs (Chinese operas) and prayers. The Gods are paraded from the temple on to the busy streets on decorated sedan, which is drawn by eight bearers carrying incense, on the ninth day of the Gods Festival. The smoke of the incense is considered auspicious and people try to capture some for financial success in the future. The priests use their own blood to write charms during the climax of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Singapore.

The Gods festival is one of the loudest as well as the most sacred festivals in Singapore. One of the main attractions of the festival are the flag bearers who dance to the sounds of drums and cymbals and take part in the street parades when the nine gods are again brought back to their abode at the temple after a brief sojourn.

The Festival is one of the most exotic folk festivals in Singapore, and yet one that is hardly publicised and known even to most of the Singaporeans. Although 50% of Singaporeans are followers of Taoism and Buddhism, this festival is mostly celebrated by devotees of the Jiu Wang Yeh Sect at a few suburban temples, the more popular of which is the Kiu Ong Yiah Temple (“Nine Emperor Gods Temple”; also known as "Dou Mu Gong" in pinyin Chinese) on Upper Serangoon Road.

you can read more about this festival on the WeeCheng Website.

Here in modern Singapore where 80% of the ethnic Chinese population is of Fujian and Guangdong descent, these ancient traditions lurk behind the jungle of skyscrapers and state-of-the-art automated subway systems. Away from the glass towers of investment banks and endless miles of shopping malls, in the relaxed suburb of Upper Serangoon - and elsewhere in the Heartlands - where locals still drink traditional Singapore style coffee on marble tables under old turning fans, a small crumbling temple built over a century ago is the Mecca of the Jiu Huang Ye Sect in Singapore. Brightly embroidered banners proclaimed the miraculous powers of the Nine Emperor Gods and their Mother, Dou Mu, amongst scared icons of these Taoist saints. On an average day, however, the temple is quiet, with an occasional worshipper or two, praying for a better fortune in the next lottery bet, or swift recovery from illness.

On the eve of the ninth moon, temples of the deities hold a ceremony to invoke and welcome the nine emperors. Since the arrival of the gods are believed to be through the waterways, processions are held from temples to the sea-shore or river to symbolize this belief. Devotees dressed in traditional white, carrying incense and candles, await the arrival of their excellencies.
A carnival-like atmosphere pervades the temple throughout the nine-day festival. During this period of time, the constant tinkling of a prayer bell and chants from the temple priests are heard. Most devotees stay at the temple, eat vegetarian meals and recite continuous chanting of prayer. It is believed that there will be rain throughout the nine days of celebration.

The ninth day of the festival is its climax. A procession which draws scores of devotees send the deities back home (a waterway such as river or sea).

During a period of nine days, those who are participating in the festival dress all in white, which has come to be translated as abstinence from eating meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products. Vendors and proprietors of restaurants indicate that je food is for sale at their establishments by putting a yellow flag out with the word เจ (je) written on it in red. However, technically, only food prepared in the sacred kitchen of the Chinese temple (in Thailand, called san jao ศาลเจ้า or ahm อ๊ำ) is je, as it must undergo a series of rituals before it can be given that name.

So look out tomorrow night (Sunday October 25) for the Gods and their magical wild rocking chairs!


reflective pen said...

i hope the you can acknowledge the photo on the page as per description on the Wikipedia page you took from. I contributed the above picture, taken 4 years ago at the Nine Emperor Gods temple in Muar, Johor. thank you

Leone Fabre said...

I certainly do aknowledge sampuna as the original contributor of the above image taken on Nov 24 2009 .....

I also take note that the image is free from copywrite. According to the same Wikipedia site.