Thousands join colourful procession to rid of evil spirits in Taoist festival
MALACCA: Some 3,000 Malaccans from various communities witnessed the grand WangKang procession last night, a Taoist festival organised to get rid of ‘evil spirits’ snaking around the streets of the historic city.
The festival, after a 10-year lapse, was organised by the century-old Yong Chuan Tian temple in Jalan Banda Hilir (Jalan Parameswara).
The colourful procession covered various parts of the heritage city taking on a 20km route, to commemorate the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration (Chap Goh Mei).
What was prominent was the striking wooden barge, measuring 5.8m long by 2.4m wide and 6.2m high with sails, flags and a dragon at the hull, which drew many onlookers for a closer look at the interesting parade.
The barge, made by local craftsmen, is 2m long and contains taoist prayer items like joss sticks and wine.
The RM80,000 barge functioned to collect evil spirits and negative elements that could bring calamities to Malacca during the Year of the Dragon.
The dragon at the hull also helped to absorb the negative elements during the procession.
Wangkang Festival organising chairman Lai Poon Ken said decorated floats, lion and dragon dance troupes from a number of clans and guilds had participated in the procession.
He said stilt walkers from Batu Pahat, ‘char yong’ classical troupe from Muar, Chingay flag bearers and ‘big head’ puppet performers from Johor Baru also showcased their talents during the procession.
Also seen in the procession were various deities ferried on palanquins, five priests and mediums in a trance with pins, spikes and spear-liked objects piercing their skins, tongues and certain parts of their bodies.
Lai said the festival also witnessed Taoist priests stopping briefly at 15 road junctions to recite prayers and bless city folks, in an effort to safeguard Malacca.
The procession begun at the temple’s premises at Jalan Banda Hilir, then proceeded to Jalan Bukit Senjuang and into Jalan Laksamana Cheng Ho before going into Jalan Munshi Abdullah.
From there, the procession turned into Jalan Bendahara and for the first time into Jalan Bunga Raya and back into Jalan Munshi Abdullah before crossing over the Hang Tuah Bridge into Jalan Hang Tuah and then on to Jalan Ong Kim Wee.
From Jalan Ong Kim Wee, the entourage also entered Jalan Tengkera and Jalan Kubu passing by Boon Leong Gym, then into Jalan Hang Jebat, Lorong Hang Jebat, Jalan Kampong Kuli, Jalan Hang Kasturi, Jalan Tukang Emas and Jalan Tokong (Temple Street).
The others areas covered by procession include Jalan Portugis, Jalan Masjid, Jalan Kampong Hulu, Jalan Kampong Pantai crossing the Chan Koon Cheng Bridge into Jalan Laksamana into Jalan Kota passing by A Famosa Fort, also for the first time.
Three schools, Sacred Heart Convent, Bandar Hilir Primary and St Francis Institution Secondary were also covered by the religious parade.
The procession paid homage to the various temples along the way before the royal barge was ferried along Taman Malacca Raya to Pulau Malacca later in the night.
The final ritual saw the barge set on fire to symbolise its final journey to the kingdom of the Saints.
The Wangkang Festival is all about ‘Shipping Out The Evil Spirits’ to bring peace and harmony. [News link]
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