Although the Nine Emperor Gods (Chinese: Jiu Wang Ye. Hokkien: Kau Ong Yah) Festival started on Friday last week (first day of the ninth moon of the Chinese Lunar Calendar), I only managed to go to the temple this morning, the 4th day, to pray. If you are familiar with Taoism, this annual festival lasts for a total of nine days. Being Monday morning, the crowd was sparse, a good thing for me or I wouldn’t be able to take any photo at all. The photos taken inside the temple still looked smokey, though.
Tow Boh Keong means “Dou Mu palace”; (Goddess) Dou Mu refers to the mother of Nine Emperor Gods (the Nine Celestial Sovereigns), “Dou Mu Yuan Jun 斗母元君” or Mother North Star.
Dou Mu who is also known as the Goddess of the North Star and the Bushel Mother is venerated by Taoists and Buddhists. In the Taoist pantheon, she occupies a position similar to that of Kuan Yin the Buddhist bodhisattva. Dou Mu is credited with the attainment of all the heavenly mysteries. Only she alone among the Taoist gods was permitted to pass between the region of the moon and the sun. Dou Mu is the mother of the so-called Nine Celestial Sovereigns.
In most representations, Dou Mu is seen to possess eighteen arms and three eyes. These symbolize her power to see and accomplish many things. Like the Buddhist bodhisattvas, she is seated on a lotus to denote her enlightened state. Dou Mu is the keeper of the book of life and death, and those seeking longevity often pray to her. Devotees of Dou Mu usually observe vegetarianism on the third and twenty-third days of each month.**
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