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Ampang Nine Emperor Gods Festival

On the morning of 15 October 2013, thousands of Bangladeshi and other faithfuls congregated along Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin (Jalan Silang), Kuala Lumpur, to perform the Aidil Adha prayers to usher in the national religious holiday of Hari Raya Haji which celebrates the virtues of sacrifice and piety signalled by the end of the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.


The preparations for the street prayer began early as tarpaulin and prayer mats were placed along the full stretch of Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin. At the call of the azan (the Muslim call to prayer) at about 7.30, the street was already packed with devotees, even spilling over to the adjoining streets of Jalan Hang Lekiu and Jalan Tun H. S. Lee. By the time the prayer proper had begun, there was no standing room left along the streets. Even the corridors of the shoplots were simply filled up.

year’s Nine Emperor Gods Festival but the festival quickly ascends to Day 6 with a traditional Chinese opera performance of the Nine Emperor Gods in the singular personage of Kau Ong Yah swinging his sword about on the stage, On Day 8 (Saturday Oct 12) the bridge walking ceremony starts at 8pm — a time when the community can participate in a ritual of cleansing and blessing.

Day 9 ( Sunday October 13 ) is the climax of the festival. This is the day of Firewalking, and the glorious send- off procession of the gods. Preparation of the fire pit starts early. The area is fenced to keep people back as it gives off a lot of heat in the early stages of burning. Devotees walk, dance and prance barefoot across the burning embers of the fire pit in a surrealism hard to dislodge from one’s memory once having seen it and experienced it.


The procession to send the Emperors back to the heavens begins past midnight. It leaves the temple at about 2am. Despite the late hour, this procession is attended by thousands. Everyone is pretty tired at the end of the nine days but the send off is a joyous celebration of blessings received, as the Emperor heads off into the night to return to the heaven.