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.
This purification ritual is usually conducted on the final day of the Nine Emperor Gods festival at this particular temple.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The ritual began with the first crossing by the Nine Emperor Gods, with the royal chariot being carried by disciples.
That was followed by other Taoist deities, either carried in sedan chairs, in the arms of disciples, or even on the back.
Other disciples followed suit, some up to three rounds. Amazing!
Throughout the ceremony, the bed was continuously compacted and doused with coarse salt.
Still, despite standing quite a distance away from the 10 feet runway, it was intensely hot.
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.
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?
Event: Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Purification Ceremony
Venue: Tow Boh Keong Temple, Ipoh
Date: 2nd Oct, 2014
*for non-Muslims only
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