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

Malacca Medical Mission, SS 1911-1933

1 April 1867: Straits Settlement
1911: St David's Hospital opened in Malacca by Dr Mildred Staley
1913: St Mary's School for Girls under Miss Eveleigh in KL
1929: A coconut fell on a Chinese boy who was brought to the Medical Mission
1933: Malacca Medical Mission closed due to lack of funds

In the Straits Settlement, there was a medical mission set up in Tranquerah, Malacca by the Anglican mission in 1911. It was named the St David's Hospital. It attended to the needs of the poor, women and children (Michael Poon, 2004).

A circa 1910-photograph of the medical mission appears on page 96 in the NUS book Historic Malacca Post Cards (Wong Yunn Chii, 2011). A sea-side view shows a double-storey brick building of mixed European and Malay/Indian architecture. Hemispheres appear above the windows and doors on the lower level and those on the upper floor have rectangles. The long narrow windows have half-louvers. A large verandah with chick blinds is atop the main part of the building (left half). Gutters and pipes can be seen. The roof is well designed and constructed. The other roof (right half) has small turrets and the columns have markings. A horse carriage (hackney, typical of the early 1900s) with a male rider (with songkok) carrying 3 people appears in front of the main door. A circular dry brick fountain appears in the foreground. Tall coconut trees surround the medical mission. Other buildings are nearby to the right of the medical mission. The photograph was probably taken late in the afternoon, judging from the long shadows of the coconut trees. The medical mission existed for 22 years and closed down in 1933 from lack of funds.

Sources and external links:
  1. Wong Yunn Chii. 2011. Historic Malacca Post Cards. National University of Singapore (NUS). ISBN 978-981-08-8400-0.
  2. Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Archives on Borneo Mission in Trinity Theological College, Singapore. A Guide. Michael Poon, October 2004.
  3. KILLED BY COCONUT. The Straits Times, 5 December 1929, Page 12