Looking back at the Nine Emperor Gods festival
A look at the nine-day celebration observed each year during the ninth month of the lunar Chinese calendar.
Photographs by Djohan Shahrin
Taoist devotees gather at the Kau Ong Yah temple in Kampung Baru, Ampang – the oldest temple in Selangor at 160.
On the first night of the festival, devotees set up tables along the road outside their homes where they place offerings of food and incense to the gods.
People line the road to await the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods in the first celebration of the festival since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago.
Participants in the procession stop for a rest, still holding the palanquin on their shoulders as they await the signal to proceed.
Taoists join in the procession, holding sticks of incense as they walk.
A man whispers something to a performer dressed up as one of the gods during the Nine Emperor Gods procession.
Crowds gather to watch a dragon dance, taking pictures of the colourful performance.
At the Kau Ong Yah temple, devotees light joss sticks for a ritual.
Some kneel while the others stand throughout the ceremony.
A man lights a giant stick of incense, setting off a plume of smoke.
Temple workers sort through vegetables to be used for the day's menu, as devotees traditionally abstain from meat throughout the festival.
Another worker brings in a stick of wood to add to the fire in the kitchen.
Kitchen attendees scoop out rice to be served to devotees at the temple. Vegetarian meals are served four times a day, in the morning, noon, afternoon and night.
Devotees gather to eat a meal together.
Vegetarian meals are the norm throughout the nine-day period.
A temple staff conducts a ritual in Kampung Baru, Ampang.
The Kau Ong Yah temple estimates that some 20,000 devotees visited throughout the festival period.
Actors prepare for a traditional Chinese opera performance in conjunction with the festival.
In the dressing room, actors apply make-up and pin on their elaborate headdresses.
A young actor practises backstage alongside a veteran before the start of the show.
Actors help each other with last-minute preparations before heading on-stage.
Crowds gather to watch the performance, which is held on an outdoors stage.
Actors perform on a traditional stage at the Kau Ong Yah temple.
On the last night of the festival, devotees participate in a fire-walking ceremony, which is meant to bring them good fortune and protection.
The ninth day ends with devotees filling the temple to complete their religious obligations.
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