Nine Emperor Gods Festival ~
Festival Date: 23 SEP 2012
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is a Chinese festival to celebrate
the return from heaven to earth of the Nine Emperor spirits, who are
worshiped as one deity known as Mazu, the Taoist goddess of the sea
and queen of heaven who represents health, wealth and prosperity.
The festival falls on the ninth day of the ninth moon in the Chinese
lunar calendar. Devotees flock to temples throughout the country for
The Nine Emperor Gods are part of a spirit-medium cult known locally
as Jieu Hwang Yeh. These nine deities are believed to dwell in the
stars in heaven under the reign of Mazu.
Taoism is the ancient indigenous
religion of China, its ideas first propagated and written down by
Shang Dynasty philosopher, Laozhi, 2500 years ago. Taoism gave the
world concepts of ying and yang, and Taoists believe in the
importance of harmony between people, and between human and nature.
In addition to the philosophy of life and death as well as morality
and nature, an extensive pantheon of gods and demigods exists in
The Sect of the Jiu Wang Yeh is
dedicated to the nine sons of Tien Hou or Queen of Heaven (also known as Tou Mu, the
Goddess of the North Star), believed to be in control of the Books of Life and
Death. Her nine sons, known as the Nine Emperor Gods, are worshipped
as patrons of prosperity, wealth and good health on their own right, especially in Fujian
and Guangdong Provinces in southern China, a region also known for its
ancient sacred rites of spirit mediumship.
With the emigration of the Fujian (or
Hokkien) and Guangdong (also known as Cantonese) peoples to
Southeast Asia including Malaysia during the last three hundred
years, they brought with them their rich culture and festivals into
Worshippers of Jiu
Hwang Yeh Sect believe that the Nine Emperor Gods
visit the worshippers every year on this day for nine days, and
during the duration of the visit, the Gods have to be entertained
with traditional Chinese opera and dances. It is also an occasion to declare one’s
religious devotion and piety so that wishes and favours would be granted for the
These Nine Deities are believed to dwell in the stars in northern
heaven under the reign of ‘Thien Hou’ - the Queen
of Heaven. They are believed to preside over blessings, life and
death, peace and harmony on Earth. Thus the focus of rituals
during the nine-day festival acts as a channel between celestial
and terrestrial beings for the salvation and protection of
The festival is celebrated over the first nine days of the ninth
moon in the Chinese lunar calendar. Devotees flock to the temples
throughout the country for this religious festival.
the eve of the ninth moon, temples of the Deities hold a
ceremony to invoke and welcome the ‘Jien Hwang Yeh’.
Since the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods is believed to be
through the waterways, processions are held from temples to the
sea-shore or river to symbolise this belief. Devotees dressed in
traditional white, carrying joss-sticks and candles, await the
arrival of their “Excellencies”.
A carnival-like atmosphere pervades the temple throughout the
nine-day festival. During this period of time, the constant
chiming of a prayer bell and chants from
the temple priests are heard. Most devotees stay at the temple,
take vegetarian meals and recite continuous chanting of prayers.
A procession to send the Nine Emperor Gods home then takes place
to complete the rites of this religious festival.
for lots of joss-sticks to be burnt, prayers chanted and an abundance
of 'ang khoo' (red buns in the shape of turtles), as
Buddhists and Taoists commemorate the Nine Emperor Gods.
To welcome the Nine Emperors, mediums wielding axes and swords
will perform evening rituals on odd numbered days. The spirits
of the gods are entertained in the temple grounds with Chinese
opera performances and fire-walking sessions.
Emperors are the Chinese version of
Robin Hood, who during the Qing dynasty robbed the rich and gave
to the poor. According
to legend, they were cornered at a seaside by soldiers, but a
giant red turtle came to their rescue and ferried them to safety
on Tow Boo Keong island.
throng to the Tow Boo Keong Temple in Ipoh, one of the oldest
temples in Malaysia, and Temples of the Star Deities like the Nan Thien Kwang in Ampang, in
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