Friday, 13 December 2013

The Hokkien Wangkang Festival: Message from the Gods in Heavens

A unique festival to send away evil spirits, the Wangkang festival in Malacca is rooted from 150 years ago during British colonial era (1863) when the British brought Chinese labour into the Straits Settlements. It is celebrated once in a few decades (1919, 1933, 2001 and 2012). It is important to the Peranakan Chinese migrant Hokkiens and their descendants who hold Taoist beliefs.

The Hokkien belief is that these evil spirits have caused worldwide epidemics and chaos, and must be sent away, so that man can live in health, peace and happiness.

It is only held when the temple deity (Ong Yah) receives a message from the Gods in Heavens to hold such an event.

The Chinese as well as the Malays and Indians, expel evil spirits from their respective communities by sending them off to water bodies (rivers, lakes and seas).

Participants gather at the Yong Chuan Tian Temple in Banda Hilir as early as 6am.

The Hokkien deploy the Wangkang (King Barge) festival with an early morning procession through 13 old city streets (totalling 20km) including Jalan Banda Hilir (now Jalan Parameswara), which finally ends up back at the temple.

In the morning parade are lion and dragon dancers, floats of small boats, Chingay performers, stilt walkers and 5 Ong Yah. The Ong Yahs are seated on sedan chairs (jiao). The barge cost RM80,000 with dimensions of 6m (length) x 2.5m (width) x 2.5m (height).

Supplies loaded onto the barge are rice, water, wine, joss paper, herbs, pots and pans, stoves, etc. The supplies must be in equilibrium for heaven, earth and sea.

A night parade of the Wangkang at Pulau Melaka then ends at the water's edge where the Wangkang is set ablaze and set sail, carrying along with it all the evil spirits.

Source and external link:
07 February 2012. Malacca cleansed of 'evil spirits'. By JASON GERALD JOHN AND KELLY KOH LING MIN. MALACCA.

Read more: Malacca cleansed of 'evil spirits' - Top News - New Straits Times