Year after year, this festival continues to wow me! Once again, I had my socks blown off by the energy and enthusiasm of the Kau Ong Yah devotees in Ampang. The Day 2 procession of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival yesterday was a sensory overload. From the moment that the first lions payed their respects to the Emperor, the energy began to flow. At one moment just before the procession started, drums banged and gongs gonged while dragons and fish danced impatiently awaiting their turn in the temple. As the setting sun lit up the smoke from the lantern altar we entered a surreal world of shapes and spirits. Then the sky spent an hour turning a glorious blue, with wispy clouds emanating a quiet beauty. On the street it was a maze of joyous, noisy chaos – mediums charged with trance, dancing lions and twirling dragons, white-clad devotees with smoking joss sticks, jostling for a view. As that heavenly sky embraced our earthly journey, I felt yin and yang come in to balance. I must have been smiling because it felt as if the whole world was saying hello to me. For the next few hours I explored the scene, searching for images, drifting between patience and urgency. Had the Emperor himself given me a new pair of rose-coloured glasses, I couldn’t have been experiencing the event more completely.
Here are a few images that I like and hope that you enjoy as well. There were so many enthusiastic photographers there last night. If you have photos and you read this – please send me an email. I will be happy to share a link to your photos with the admiring viewers who pass by here.
This makes me think of an aquarium. Perhaps it’s yin and yang – fire and water?
The dragon was mesmerized by the smoke and sunlight as well.
Moving on from that fantastic scene, here is one of the puppets out on the street.
A phoenix glides smoothly through the evening sky.
This spirit medium moved energetically through the crowd. Heaven and Earth in balance. That ring around his shoulders is a symbol of the universe!
A dragon visits one of the many small altars set up in front of businesses along the route.
Dance party with the gods.
And this one is a dance party of a different sort (but only slightly). The mediums enter into trance at the altar of the Five Generals. The possession is often accompanied by a lift and a little “whoop.”
Redefining “cat” – this northern-style lion was an active ball of colourful fuzziness.
A spirit medium moves gently through the scene.
The pierced spirit mediums stand side by side on the truck on the way to the sacred riverside location.
At the riverside, a medium waits, still and thoughtful, while the Finance Minister deity is invited to the festival.
Thanks to Kenny (if you see this, please email me!) who gave a stranger a ride on his motorcycle. I shot this next photo by holding my camera behind me, rather blindly. The Finance Minister is protected by the yellow umbrella on the truck.
Kenny kept pace with the other truck for awhile so we could say hello.
These cheery, oversized fellows led the way back to the temple with dance music and camaraderie.
After the Finance Minister was placed in the altar with the Emperor there was a mad rush to get in and pay respects. Show me the money!!
That’s all for now. I’m off to Sungai Petani to see what goes on in a town with 10 Nine Emperor Gods temples! Will let you know.