14 Nov THE NINE EMPEROR GODS FESTIVAL
Nine Emperor Gods Festival is immensely commemorated in Penang. In Penang Island, the temples of Nine Emperor Gods coexist in Macallum Street and Burma Road named Tow Boo Kong Temple and Tao Bo Kong Temple respectively.
The rituals performed acts as a medium between heavenly gods and human being where the blessings of salvation and protection are bestowed upon mankind. The belief is practiced by welcoming the dieties into the temples whereby they are worshipped for nine days. For that period of time, devotees will adhere to a vegetarian diet for the purpose of purifying their body and soul in order for the gods to bless their prayers.
Prayers and rituals are executed throughout the entire course of time. The climax of Nine Emperor Gods Festival falls on the ninth day where many devotees will attend the ceremony of the final prayer. Aside from fire-walking rituals, the accustomed procedure for the departure of the gods is to allocate the revered urn into a sedan chair and depart to a beach or waterway.
Lion dance, stilt walking and orchestral are performed in conjunction with the procession. Upon arrival, a Taoist priest will conduct the ceremony of escorting the gods back to nirvana. In the interim of this agenda, chosen committee members are then seated in the wooden boat with the flaming urn as they deviate from the shore, symbolising the departure of the gods. Paper made dragon boat will also be alighted and set adrift as an emblem of discarding bad luck and misfortune.
To conclude the vegetarian ritual, devotees present meat dishes with the intention of giving thanks towards the heaven guards. Worshippers then break fast and feast upon the savoury meal as a manifestation of the end.