Cleansing ‘evil spirits’ away

Final preparations: Gan (right) and his secretary Sor Boon Chia inspecting the Royal Barge, which will be the main feature of the Wangkang Festival, at the Yong Chuan Tian Temple in Bandar Hilir.

MELAKA: An ancient Hokkien festival aimed at “cleansing” a place of evil spirits will be held here next month to get rid of any Covid-19 negativity.

The Wangkang Festival, which was last organised eight years ago by the Yong Chuan Tian Temple, will feature the Royal Barge, the main feature of the procession.

The festival’s organising chairman, Datuk Ronald Gan, said they hoped to eliminate the negative elements through the symbolic ritual in a scaled-down procession that will abide by the standard operating procedure under the recovery movement control order.

The festival will only be held when the temple’s deity, Ong Yah, receives a message from the “heavens” to hold the procession.

Gan said the temple in Bandar Hilir was organising the procession after receiving a “command” from the deity.

“Ong Yah spelled out the order through a temple medium and predicted the pandemic scourge in December 2017. It took us three years to prepare for the procession, which will be held in mid-November, ” he said in an interview.

Gan said Ong Yah ordered similar processions in 1919,1933,2001 and 2012.

“These were the years when epidemic scourges and chaos plagued the global community, ” he added.

He said Wangkang was organised to “collect” wandering souls, evil spirits and other negative elements.

The spirits and negative elements “stored” in the majestic barge were then sent to another dimension, he said.

Gan said the procession was held with the hope that there would be health, peace, prosperity and happiness in the world.

He also said efforts to have Unesco declare Wangkang as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage jointly with China were in the final stages.

Wangkang is also practised in Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan, Gan added.

The Cheng Wah Keong Temple in Kandang near here held a similar procession in 2017.

However, the Yong Chuan Tian Temple has kept a systematic record of the procession since 1911.

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