MELAKA: The majestic Wangkang barge is set to "sail" next month, turning the unique event as a curtain-raiser to the religious segment of Visit Melaka Year 2024 (TMM 2024).
The 2024 Wangkang Festival's director, Datuk Ronald Gan, said the grand procession of the barge is scheduled on Jan 11, and the event will complement TMM 2024.
"We expect devotees from all over the country, China and Indonesia, as well as heritage enthusiasts from Singapore, Australia to converge here to witness the event," he said on Wed (Dec 6).
Gan said the Yong Chuan Tian Temple of Bandar Hilir will also honour donors with various collector items, such as gold medallions, during the event.
He said ceremonial items would also be sold to devotees for worship and cleansing purposes throughout the festival.
Gan said the procession will cover a distance of about nine kilometres along the old quarters of the historic city while making 22 stops during its journey.
"The significance of this procession is to collect wandering souls, evil spirits and other negative elements," he said.
Gan said the second phase of the procession will start at Taman Melaka Raya at 7pm on the same day before reaching the barge's final destination at Pulau Melaka.
The last festival was held in 2020 but was a low-key affair due to the then series of ongoing movement control orders.
Gan said Yong Chuan Tian Temple organises such procession after getting the command from the main deity- Ong Yah.
Gan said Ong Yah ordered similar processions in 1919, 1933, 2001 and 2012.
He said the spirits and negative elements collected in the majestic barge are then sent to another dimension.
Gan said the procession is held with the hope of bringing health, peace, prosperity and happiness to the state and the world.
He said Wangkang was first introduced to Melaka by the Hokkien community.
Gan said Wangkang also existed in Indonesia, Thailand and Japan, but Melaka had kept systematic records for some 100 years.
Gan added that Wangkang was declared a National Intangible Heritage in 2013.