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I had a chat with a lady devotee who told me that she was on vegetarian diet for ten days, which means she started on the eve of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. This year is the 18th year that she has participated in firewalking, while her son, who is about ten years old, is checking in for the third year, though he had to be carried by his father. Still, children like him have to go on vegetarian diet as well.
Also, participants of the firewalking ceremony had to be dressed in all white, with yellow threads tied around both their ankles, while some had yellow sash talismans tied around their waist too. Even so, before the start of the ceremony, all of them had to pray to the Gods first, and then at 7pm, the first mediums in trance and smaller chariots started to cross over the fire, followed by the main Chariot of the Nine Emperor Gods, paving the way for “ordinary” devotees.
Most devotees carried with them (yellow) bags containing garments, talismans and other personal effects, so that those who were unable to participate in the fire walking ceremony themselves, could also be cleared of obstacles and impurities in spirit.
Unlike some stricter Chinese temples, women here were allowed to walk across the coal (literal translation: cross the fire pit). Other devotees who did not participate in the ritual were allowed to go as near to the pit as they could endure the heat.
Yours truly was only about a couple of feet away in an attempt to get better shots. Although I am not very satisfied with my position as the crowd was so huge I could hardly move (by the way, those born in the year of the Snake are not supposed to watch the fire walking ceremony this year), and neither did I have the best camera equipment or photography technique, I think I managed (hopefully) to catch the essence of the entire event in my photos and video.
Video (below): Fire-walking during Nine Emperor Gods festival at Tow Boh Keong, Ipoh
If you have missed this year’s Nine Emperor Gods festivities, I am afraid you will have to wait a full year as the Nine Emperor Gods were sent off late last night or early this morning through various waterways where they arrived nine days ago.
*for non-Muslims only
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