After the Mid Autumn Festival, Taoism devotees will prepare for the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. The Nine Emperor Gods Festival starts on the 1st day of 9th month in lunar calendar and ends on the 10th day of the month. Hence, it’s a ten-day Taoism festival. On the last day, there’s a procession to send off the Emperor Gods.
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is quite common at the coastal area in Fujian and Guangdong, as well as Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. The origin of this festival has several versions. The most common ones are:
- From the Big Dipper: Taoists believe the Big Dipper has 9 stars instead of 7 stars (2 of the stars are invisible) and the Star Lords of the Big Dipper are the Nine Emperor Gods.
- From the anti-Qing activists: It commemorates the 9 anti-Qing activists who were killed by the Qing government.
The 9th day of the festival is its climax because devotees will walk on the burning fire pathway. Devotees have to be vegetarians for 9 days during the festival in order to walk the fire pathway. However, children and ladies are not allowed to participate the firewalking. Devotees who participated before said that they did not feel pain during the firewalking and it’s similar with normal walking. They believe the God is blessing them and everything will go smooth after the firewalking. Hence, there are more and more devotees participate the firewalking.
During the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, Chinese opera is also arranged for performance. In Malaysia, the opera usually either in Teochew or in Hokkien dialects. I can’t understand both dialects and hence, I only watch the expression and fighting choreography.
在雪隆地区，位于安邦 Jalan Merdeka 的九皇爷南天宫是最为热闹、人最多的。每年都吸引几十万人来朝拜，就算不进庙里朝拜，都会在庙旁的戏台看看大戏，或逛逛四周玲琅满目的食物摊、玩具摊、传统工艺摊等等。
In Klang Valley, the most crowded one is Nine Emperor Gods Temple at Jalan Merdeka in Ampang. It attracts millions of people for worships every year. Although some people do not enter the temple for worships, they will watch the Chinese opera show next to the temple, or walk the night market surrounding the temple.
On the 9th day of the festival, the empty space in front of the main hall of Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Ampang will fence with wire mesh in order to hold the firewalking at 7pm safely and smoothly. However, photographers who wish to enter the fenced area have to pre-register and have to be men. That said, women have no chances at all to enter the area to snap photos. Not only that, they also limit the number of photographers to enter into the fenced area. Because of too many devotees and photographers, most of them have to stand outside to witness the firewalking.
Notes: Photographers have to pre-register to enter fenced area for shooting firewalking. The registration usually will be ended before 5pm and have to show your identity card in order to proof that you are a man. If not able to register, then have to stand outside to shoot. Recommend to bring your own ladder or stool, else you won’t be able to see anything or shoot any photos.
The Malaysian Chinese opera troupes are very friendly, they usually allow photographers to take photos. However, the photographers have to aware of these:-
- The opera troupe has a lot of taboos, please do not touch any things belong to the opera troupe.
- The opera singers do not like photographers ask them to pose, especially when they are making up. Unfortunately, this is the moment that most of the photographers would like to snap photos. I won’t say can’t take photos, but please don’t disturb them when they are focusing in makeup, don’t ask them look here look there, or look up look down, or take the makeup pencil higher lower……these are the requirements that the opera singers hate the most when they are making up!
- If you like to stay at the backstage for photograph, please give a space for opera singers go in and out, or run, or change clothes. This is because during the performance, the opera singers usually have to rush in-and-out. Unfortunately, many photographers block the way at the backstage! These photographers really will make them angry!
As I’m a lady, I can’t really enter the fenced area to shoot firewalking. Moreover, ladies are not allowed to enter the main hall on the 9th day of festival. The devotees are too many, the area surrounding the temple is full with incense smoke too. Hence, I couldn’t stay longer at the temple area and made a move to performance stage to shoot Chinese opera troupe and spoke with the opera actors.
- RapiKL 巴士：搭300 (即RapidKL整顿路线前的U30) 号或 T301(之前的U29) 号的巴士即可到达。
- 轻快铁：最近的轻快铁车站是 Cahaya station，从车站走过去约 20 分钟。不过，沿途缺乏路灯，最好结伴同行。
- 自驾：可把车停泊在南天宫对面的停车场，节日期间的收费越 RM5 一辆车。
Transportation to Nine Emperor Gods Temple in Ampang:
- RapidKL Bus: Take bus number 300 (the formerly U30 before RapidKL revamped its bus route) or T301 (the formerly U29).
- LRT: The nearest station is Cahaya station. From the LRT station, walk about 20 minutes to reach the temple. However, there is no street light along the way, so better walk in a group.
- Self-drive: Can park the car at the open parking space opposite the temple. During the festival, the parking will cost about RM5 per car per entry.