Colourful folk festivities attract big crowd to farewell parade for deities


Devotees carrying the yellow ceremonial boat before it is set adrift at the sea for the procession from Hong Kong Street Tow Boh Keong Temple in Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze which marked the ninth-day of the Kew Ong Yeah (Nine Emperor Gods) festival in George Town,Penang. Pix by: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star/ 9 October 2016

THOUSANDS of devotees braved the rain to send off the Kew Ong Yeah (Nine Emperor Gods) to mark the end of the nine-day festival.

Some devotees were whispering that the intermittent rain on Sunday night was a good omen to send off the deities to the sea.

Wong Foo Hao, 30, who came with his family of three to the Tow Boo Keong Temple in Macallum Street Ghaut, Penang, said he observed a vegetarian diet on the last three days.

“When I was young, my father would bring us to the temple on the last day to pray for peace.

(Above) A devotee balancing brightly lit wheels on the ends of a metal rod pierced through his cheeks during the procession from the Tow Boh Keong Temple in Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze. (Left pic) Devotees walking through the ‘gate of longevity’ during the festival.
A devotee balancing brightly lit wheels on the ends of a metal rod pierced through his cheeks during the procession from the Tow Boh Keong Temple in Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze.  

“I’ve been doing this with my family since then,” he said.

The temple also celebrated the occasion with a 24-drum performance and a dragon dance heralded by the sounds of cymbals and drums.

Temple chairman Yeoh Kheng Hoe said the brightly lit floats and a yellow ceremonial boat toured the streets for about 4km before the boat was set adrift at a jetty in Weld Quay to symbolise the return of the deities to heaven.

Around the same time, Lebuh Carnarvon was closed to traffic to make way for the procession featuring 10 floats, mainly from the Tow Boh Keong Temple in Jalan Cheong Fatt Tze.

The main float carrying the urn of the nine brother deities was pulled by hundreds of devotees and accompanied by mediums in trance.

As the float passed by, visitors and devotees knelt down to pay homage along the road.

Devotees gathering at the Kew Ong Yeah Temple in Burmah Road to pay homage to the deities on the ninth day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
Devotees gathering at the Kew Ong Yeah Temple in Burmah Road to pay homage to the deities on the ninth day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival.  

There was also a hive of activity at the Kew Ong Yeah Temple in Burmah Road as devotees thronged the place of worship to pray.

The festival, which begins on the first day of the ninth lunar month, is dedicated to the nine sons of Tou Mu, the Goddess of the North Star who is said to control the books of life and death.

Her sons are believed to be able to cure sickness and bestow luck, wealth and longevity to devotees who observe a strict vegetarian diet throughout the nine days.

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