Disciples of the Nine Emperor Gods at Tong Tien Koon Taoist temple in Pasir Pinji, Ipoh had the biggest test of faith last evening when they participated in the fire-walking purification ceremony.
Tong Tien Koon usually conducts this purification ritual on the 8th day of the Nine Emperor Gods festival, so as not to coincide with Tow Boh Keong in Ipoh, where this ritual is hosted on the 9th (last) day of the festival.
These Taoist disciples had already observed a vegetarian diet for at least nine days and abstained from other stimulants such as alcohol and cigarettes, and kept their minds free from impure thoughts and offensive speech.
Additionally, pregnant or menstruating women, those who are mourning or suffering from medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes are not permitted to participate in the ritual. This year, those who were born in the Year of the Goat were also disallowed from participation. Disciples who were of two minds were also advised to forgo because it meant that they lacked faith.
The standard operating procedure (SOP) at Tong Tien Koon is that all participators should dress in white, and take a drink of “holy water” prior to walking on the sizzling bed of embers, estimated to be ten feet in length.
The purification ritual of walking across the bed of embers is an act of warding off evil spirits and celestial obstacles as well as cleansing oneself of impurities. In the process, luck and good fortune are enhanced. Going through the ritual is also an act of total devotion to the Nine Emperor Gods.
The ritual began first with chanting and prayers before the first person walked across it. He was the Chief Master (Lead Sifu). Statues of Taoist deities followed suit carried by mediums, and sedan chairs. Then it was the turn of other disciples who had followed through with the vegetarian diet, before wrapping up with the crossing of the Nine Emperor Gods in the regal royal chariot.
Throughout the ceremony, the bed of embers was continuously compacted and doused with coarse salt, to control the heat. Hot it might be, but devotees who walked over it did not feel anything out of the ordinary. To them, it was like walking on regular ground, perhaps.
Event: Nine Emperor Gods Fire-Walking Purification Ceremony
Venue: Tong Tien Koon, Pasir Pinji, Ipoh
Date: 3rd Oct, 2022
*for non-Muslims only