THE FIRST day of the ninth lunar month marks the time of year when Taoists throng the Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Pekan Ampang to celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods festival.
The festival officially started on Sunday (Oct 18) but hundreds of devotees had gathered at the temple the day before to usher in the nine gods from a nearby river.
The Nine Emperor Gods are believed to be the nine sons of Dou Mu, the Goddess of the North Star.
Devotees wearing white from head to toe had gathered at the temple since early Saturday evening to prepare for the procession.
Several lion and dragon dance troupes were seen paying respect to the deities inside the temple before making their way outside.
Jason Loh, 35, from Petaling Jaya said that he had been taking part in the celebrations for the past six years.
“We would be staying in the temple until the ninth day, which is on Oct 26,” Loh said.
During this time, Loh and the other devotees would be going on a vegetarian diet.
“We also help around the temple, doing things like clearing out the joss stick holders,” he said.
Loh would also be joining the other male devotees who would walk on burning coal on the ninth day.
It is believed that those who were pure of heart would not feel any pain when walking on the coal.
“I’ve been doing it every year and I don’t feel a thing,” Loh said.
Within the temple vicinity and outside the compound, many stalls have been set up selling all sorts of items like good luck charms, amulets, lanterns, flour dolls, and even candies and vegetarian food.
It is also during this Nine Emperor Gods festival that colourful flour dolls moulded into the shapes of animals and cartoon characters fastened onto a stick were being sold at stalls around the temple.
Carmen Chan, 27, said that her family would make these dolls every year to be sold during the festival.
“This is the only time of the year that we make it. Not many people make these dolls any more,” said Chan.
The prices of the figurines range between RM4 and RM10.
Chan said that the more elaborate ones could take up to a few hours to make.
The festival would end on Oct 26, when devotees would once again take part in a procession, this time to send off the gods back to the sea.