Rousing finale to festival
By JEREMY TAN - Monday October 18, 2010; Metro North, The Star

BRIGHTLY lit and beautifully decorated floats made their way through several parts in Penang in grand processions as the Nine Emperor Gods were given a rousing and elaborate send-off.

Temples and shrines dedicated to the nine brother deities were a hive of activity as mediums performed rituals and thousands of devotees turned up en masse to offer prayers and accompany the processions on their way to the waterfront for the ceremonial send-off.

A brief fireworks display kicked off the procession at the Burmah Road Kuan Yin Tao Bo Kong Temple, which started around 11pm on Saturday.

Among those taking part was a large family entourage of some 40 members spanning three generations, with the youngest aged three and the oldest in their 60s.

According to housewife Kang Bee Seow, 51, whose father was a former committee member of the temple, and brother an incumbent, they regularly celebrate major festivals together as one big family.

“We don’t want the Chinese tradition to fade away. So whenever there’s a celebration, everyone will get together.

“We hope this would ensure that the next generation appreciates our culture and carries on its traditions,” she said.

The group even goes to the extent of making their own T-shirts, with a different design every year, for the Nine Emperor Gods festival.

Also standing out among the crowd were circus performers Hal Hallibutt, 44, and Olga Marchese, 38, from England and Italy respectively, who just arrived in Penang on holiday a day earlier.

They were exploring the areas near the temple earlier in the day when they caught sight of preparations going on, and ventured inside to see what was happening.

A temple member then briefed them on the day’s significance.

A ceremonial boat, which contained the deities’ sacred urn, was eventually taken out to sea, and then set ablaze and left to drift, signifying the deities’ return to the heavens.

Elsewhere, an equally large crowd gathered at the Magazine Road Tow Boo Kong Temple for a similar procession.

Over at Lip Sin Garden, devotees living nearby also witnessed and took part in a procession by the Kew Ong Tai Tay Tow Boe Keong Temple.

The festival is celebrated in honour of the nine sons of Dou Mu, the Goddess of the North Star, who is believed to control the Books of Life and Death.

Also Read:

Nine Emperor Gods Festival

Additional information