Merged Energies in an Evening of Expectation

The eve of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Ampang is always one of great expectations. Before the sun sets, the dragons and lions dance before the altar in a frenzied performance of respect. In that ritual, the sacred space is cleansed, readying the sanctuary for the Emperor’s presence. I spend my time enjoying the delights of the raucous sounds and colours. The moment brings out the best of my watery “yin” tendencies and I flit, distracted by heightened senses, seeking a connection.

Then, as the daylight softens and the evening rises, something in the energy also begins to change. The mediums arrive, bringing a nervous tension with their swords and embellished wardrobes. There is a moment when I feel that time stands still in expectation. The first clangs of the clamorous temple bell and the first poundings on the powerful drum, announce that the time is near, demanding our attention to repeated patterns of ritual belief. With the insistent drumming, the Yang ascends with the night. Only then do I feel connection to the space and the embrace of the familiar. The devotees light three joss sticks and hold them high as they walk, close-knit, through the streets. Just a short time later, when the paper bursts into flames beside the river, the powers merge to bring the stars to earth. All along the route back to the temple, fires light the way and the deities dance before them. It has begun again.

Here’s a short mash-up of some selected some images from the scene on the eve of the festival. Merged energies.