It’s the first day of the ninth Chinese lunar month today, which means it is once again, time to celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
Devotees of Nine Emperor Gods from Tow Boh Keong, a main Nine Emperor Gods temple in Ipoh, all dressed in white, converged at the temple late at night on the eve of the festival to form a procession to the Kinta River Bridge at Jalan Sultan Iskandar (Hugh Low Street) for a ceremony to receive the Nine Emperor Gods, Goddess Dou Mu, Legendary Third Prince, and other deities from the waterway.
The ceremony, which required disciples and devotees to kneel, took almost thirty minutes to complete, after the sifus (Taoist masters) have successfully scooped items from the river that represent the deities’ spirits, and installed them into ornately painted sedan chairs to be carried back to the temple.
Meanwhile, other temples that celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods Festival were going through the same ritual at different points of rivers and beaches, to receive the deities to join in the festivities. Nine Emperor Gods Festival is mainly observed in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and even Indonesia, albeit on a modest scale.
On our return to Tow Boh Keong, we crossed paths with an entourage from Tong Tien Koon Temple, another major Nine Emperor Gods temple in Ipoh, who were also on their way back to base.
A lengthy ceremony conducted by Taoist priests ensued, and after the deities were safely installed at their rightful places in the temple, devotees were finally allowed to go inside the main temple hall to pray and give offerings to the deities.
Faithful devotees from near and far throng Nine Emperor Gods temples in Chinese communities the world over, in droves throughout the day and night during the nine days of festival to pay homage to the Nine Emperor Gods. Some offer thanksgiving for wishes granted.
At Tow Boh Keong, over these nine days during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, complimentary vegetarian meals are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, at the temple hall. At the back compound of the temple are vendors selling a good array of vegetarian food throughout the day.
Devotees of the Nine Emperor Gods usually observe a vegetarian diet for ten days, including on the eve of the festival, and abstain from eating meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products.
They also remain celibate, refrain from impure thoughts, and abstain from smoking and drinking liquor. This is a form of penance as well as mental and spiritual purification.
Meanwhile, those exempted from praying to the Nine Emperor Gods are those in mourning and menstruating women.
Read my archived posts on the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
29 Sept 2008 – Nine Emperor Gods Festival 九皇大帝
11 Oct 2010 – 九皇大帝 Nine Emperor Gods Festival @ Tow Boh Keong Ipoh, Perak
17 Oct 2010 – Nine Emperor Gods Fire Walking Ceremony @ Tow Boh Keong Taoist Temple in Ipoh
4 Oct 2011 – Nine Emperor Gods Chinese Opera @ Tow Boh Keong, Ipoh
5 Oct 2011 – Photos: 九皇大帝 Nine Emperor Gods Festival @ Tow Boh Keong, Ipoh
21 Oct 2013 – Nine Emperor Gods Street Procession Ipoh
And to have a deeper understanding of the Nine Emperor Gods, especially the legend, check out this page.
The following is a brief schedule of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival at Tow Boh Keong:
24th Sept. – 2nd Oct. – (from 8pm) Chinese opera performance
28th Sept. – (from 8am) Joint Nine Emperor Gods street procession with Tong Tien Koon Temple
2nd Oct. – (5pm – 7pm) Fire walking ceremony / (from 11.30pm) – Crossing the Fortune Bridge for luck enhancement
3rd Oct. (from 4.45am) – Grand send-off of the Nine Emperor Gods and other deities back to Heaven
Tokong Tow Boh Keong
Add: 12, Jalan Tokong, 31650 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.
GPS Coordinates: N 04° 35.112, E 101° 5.057
*for non-Muslims only
Note: View larger images by clicking on an image once this page has completely loaded. Then navigate by clicking on the right or left side of image.