Jiu Huang Dian 九皇殿 2017
Nine Emperor Gods Festival
Burning of dragon boat to signify the sending off of the nine emperor gods
On the evening of the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, a burning paper ship lights up the shoreline of Changi Beach. The boat is consumed by fire, quickly sending nine divine beings on their journey back to their celestial abodes. This send-off ritual is none other than the closing of the divine beings’ nine-day sojourn into the human world during one of the biggest Taoist celebrations in Singapore, the Nine Emperor Gods Festival
Jiu Huang Dian: A Young Temple
Yu Feng Jiu Huang Dian (玉封九皇殿) tentage of its festival
Being a fairly young home temple, Yu Feng Jiu Huang Dian (玉封九皇殿) has nine years of history. It was founded on December 2008 and originally located at Jurong West Street 41 (where it held its festival). Before moving in 2014, to 347 Jurong East Ave 1, where it would occupy a large open area temporarily for nine days. While there was a change in venue, it did not prevent Taoist devotees who stayed around these area from gracing the event. Many came to pray for the Nine Emperor Gods’ blessings and some even followed this temple from its original venue to volunteer at the festival.
Banners hung up across the front side near the altar which says The Northern Star Dipper ‘北斗星君’, Jiu Huang Da Di ‘九皇大帝’, The Southern Star Dipper ‘南斗星君’
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is held from last day of the eighth lunar month to the tenth day of the ninth lunar month. However, preparations for the festival had started early, starting from scratch, the setup of the five-storey altar, banners, the five coloured flags and some deity costumes at the side.
Setting up of the five storey high altar to hold the gods
Wide view of the tentage from the outside
The altar is fully installed with yellow fabrics clothing the five storey altar, along with the five flags and a long banner across the tentage area. The five flags hung at the pinnacle of the altar, represents North, West, Central, South and East.
And there are banners hung across the front side of the tentage positioning from the left; The Northern Star Dipper ‘北斗星君’, Nine Emperor God ‘九皇大帝’ and The Southern Star Dipper ‘南斗星君’. The second installation of flags marks other deities who are invited to the Nine Emperor Gods festival such as the ‘五营将军’, ‘玉皇上帝’ and‘六壬仙师’.As such the plain open area is transformed with a festive atmosphere befitting of a celebration for the Nine Emperor Gods.
Installing the Heavenly Lantern
Temple founder lighting up the lamps
The heavenly lantern is raised with a tall bamboo in a bid to guide deities and gods to the celebration. It has to be a 15-year-old bamboo and is strong, tall and straight in order to withstand the nine-day celebrations.
During the process, a hole is dug for the bamboo, where rice and wine are placed in it. The Taoist priest would chant a prayer and place a ‘fu’ amulet into the hole. An interesting procedure notable is the blessing of the area then insert the bamboo into it.
Religious inscriptions to be attached to the bamboo
Temple members preparing bamboo to hold the lamps
Inviting the deities
Statues arriving at open area
Temple members carefully placing the statues to the respective positions
Temple members ensuring the statues are placed orderly and neatly
Completed altar with deities and various offerings
The preparations also included other Gods who were invited to this festival. They include the gods from heavens and earth from 三清、三公、六壬、大伯公 、众仙.
A close up of some of the deities
The deities and gods are arranged on the altar in such a way as the heaven gods were placed at the top and the earth gods were placed at the bottom. Some of the invited gods or deities include 六壬仙师, 关圣帝君, 千里眼顺风耳将军, 玄天上帝, 广泽尊王. At this warm and delightful festival， devotees come down to join and pray for blessing and fortune.