Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

1. disciples getting ready to cross the bed of hot embers

Disciples of the Nine Emperor Gods at Taoist temple in Ipoh, Tow Boh Keong, underwent their biggest test on their faith last evening when they participated in the fire-walking ceremony.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

2. two Taoist masters carrying whip and flags test out the coals

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

3. a Taoist master in trance lead the way carrying the Nine Emperor Gods flags and sword

This purification ritual is usually conducted on the final day of the Nine Emperor Gods festival at this particular temple.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

4. the flag bearer cross the hot embers

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

5. disciples carry the royal chariot of the Nine Emperor Gods over the hot coals

The disciples had been on a vegetarian diet for at least ten days and abstained from other stimulants such as alcohol and cigarettes, and kept their mind free from impure thoughts and offensive speech.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

6. disciples carry yellow bags of clothing and food ration over the hot pit for blessings

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

7. disciples carry a high-ranked Taoist deity on sedan chair over the coals

The last time I covered the event was four years ago. Since then, I could see that the ceremony is not conducted as stringently as before.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

8. a disciple carry Lord General Kuan Ti over the coals

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

9. disciples take turns to cross the burning pit barefooted

Disciples no longer have to be dressed entirely in white, and most do not have yellow strips of cloth tied around their ankles. Moreover, the bed of embers seemed to be shorter in length.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

10. a disciple carry his child across the embers

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

11. a disciple carry the Beggar Deity on his back

Walking across the hot embers during the ceremony is an act to ward off evil and obstacles, and cleanse oneself of impurities and at the same time, enhance luck and good fortune. It was also an act of total devotion to the Nine Emperor Gods.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

12. a disciple is victorious in conquering his fear crossing over hot embers

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

13. disciples carry yellow bags of clothing and food ration led by the flag of the Nine Emperor Gods

The ritual began with the first crossing by the Nine Emperor Gods, with the royal chariot being carried by disciples.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

14. two disciples waving the flags of the Nine Emperor Gods

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

15. a disciple running across the embers

That was followed by other Taoist deities, either carried in sedan chairs, in the arms of disciples, or even on the back.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

16. slow and steady does it

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

17. a disciple carry his baby across

Other disciples followed suit, some up to three rounds. Amazing!

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

18. a Taoist master sits on the bed of hot embers

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

19. he then lies down on it

Throughout the ceremony, the bed was continuously compacted and doused with coarse salt.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

20. an Indian disciple carrying his child on his shoulder as he walks across the hot embers

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

21. disciples are dressed in white

Still, despite standing quite a distance away from the 10 feet runway, it was intensely hot.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

22. disciples cross the bed of embers up to three times

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

23. an Indian disciple stops in the middle of the burning pit to offer a prayer

However, to the hundreds of disciples here, who ranged in age from toddlers carried in their parent’s arms to senior citizens, it was just like a walk in the park for them.

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

24. a disciple burning joss papers at the end of the fire-walking ceremony

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

25. the burning pit of embers is covered with joss papers at the end of the fire-walking ceremony

Some, though, were spotted hiding behind pillars, to escape from being forced to perform the deed. Well, I guess there is always another year, right?

Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Ceremony

26. Taoist masters pray to the four directions to signify the end of the fire-walking ceremony

Event: Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Purification Ceremony
Venue: Tow Boh Keong Temple, Ipoh
Date: 2nd Oct, 2014
Time: 6pm

*for non-Muslims only

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