Chinese festival Nine Emperor Gods Festival

Thursday, October 18, 2007
Chinese festival Nine Emperor Gods Festival
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival celebrated in Thailand and Malaysia is a Chinese festival to celebrate the return from heaven to earth of the Nine Emperor spirits, who are worshipped as one deity known as Ma Zu, literally means Queen of Heaven who represent health, wealth and prosperity.

The festival known as Vegetarian Festival in Thailand, always falls on the first days of the ninth Chinese lunar month, and for nine days participants observe the following commitments:

* Cleanliness of the body during the festival
* Clean kitchen utensils not to be used by others who do not participate in the festival
* Wear white during the festival
* Behave physically and mentally
* Avoid eating meat
* Avoid sex
* Avoid alcohol
* People in mourning should not participate
* Pregnant women and menstruating women should not attend ceremonies

One of the most exciting aspects of the festival is the various, (and sometimes gruesome, see picture above) ceremonies which are held to invoke the gods. Firewalking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by. Men and women puncture their cheeks with various items including knives, skewers and other household items. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts.

The ninth day of the festival is its climax. A procession which draws scores of devotees send the deities back home (a waterway such as river or sea).

We are currently living in Malaysia, as tomorrow is the ninth day of the festival, we hope we can take some photos from the event.


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