Leng San Giam Dou Mu Gong 龍山岩斗母宫 2017 [中文版]

坐落在宏茂桥一巷的宏茂桥联合庙是由龍山岩、壕林宫与金英堂组成。

龍山岩斗母宫原称为武吉巴督斗母宫。在1970年代,创办人传喜师父在金殿路建立了一间庙,而主神为九皇五帝。1980年代,斗母宫从金殿路搬迁至武吉巴督,从而命名武吉巴督斗母宫。附近的居民也对斗母宫每年农历九月所举办的庆典极为熟悉。武吉巴督斗母宫与龍山岩在2011年合并,而至今就在庙宇的第二层楼为信众服务。这座三层楼的庙宇不仅供奉九皇爷,也供奉其他神明,例如法主圣君(张/肖/章公圣君)以及大圣公等。

九皇爷诞前之筹备工作

虽然每年的农历九月初一至初九是九皇爷诞,但在庆典前的一个月前,庙方就已经开始为庆典筹备。筹备工作包括清理神像、在搭建好的帐篷内设置神坛,以及整修九皇爷的轿子等。

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庙宇理事正在准备九皇爷诞所需的旗帜与纸制供品。

庙宇理事将装饰好的轿子搬至庙后的临时帐篷进行整修,确保轿子状态良好。

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庙宇理事将九皇爷诞所需的布条挂在帐篷内。

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理事与义工帮忙将搭建好的龙船移至庙宇。

一件白上衣、一条白裤子、一条白毛巾、一条白头巾与一条黄布(将系在腰上),犹如丧服,隐喻为九皇爷戴孝。因此在九皇爷诞期间,理事都必须穿着这套衣着。而在筹备期间,理事会将这些衣服分类、组成一套套的服装,以便他人易取得。

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庙宇理事将九皇爷诞所需的衣物进行分类。

请水仪式的前夕(农历八月廿八日),庙宇在帐篷外的九皇灯神坛前进行了一场起幡仪式,将竹篙在庙宇外,并在上面挂上九盏灯。根据龍山岩斗母宫的说法,竹篙的作用像是一根“天线”,用来给神明指路,邀请神明前来庙宇参与九皇爷诞的庆典活动。

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庙宇师父在九皇灯神坛前进行起幡仪式。

九皇爷诞之请水仪式

恭迎九皇五帝圣晋殿

请水意指欢迎九位九皇爷,意味九皇爷诞正式开始。龍山岩斗母宫每年都会与信众聚集在榜鹅一带的滨海乡村俱乐部码头(榜鹅码头),迎接九皇爷的驾临。2017年的九皇爷诞,请水仪式于农历八月廿九日(10月18日)在榜鹅码头举行。

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理事在帐篷内将神像系在轿子上。

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乩身在前往榜鹅码头的请水仪式前起乩。

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庙宇理事与义工在前往榜鹅码头前进行集体跪拜仪式。

大约在傍晚6点30分,庙宇的第一组理事抵达榜鹅码头。理事在码头为请水仪式设置了一个神坛,神坛上摆放着供品、庙宇所供奉的神像、庙宇旗帜,以及九皇爷和斗母娘娘专属的香炉

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理事在榜鹅码头设置神坛。神坛上摆放的神像包括关帝、妈祖、法主公和大圣公等。

神坛设置完毕后,道士带领庙宇理事握香参拜神明,接着吟诵疏文以及北斗经。道士吟诵疏文的目的是为了请求神明保佑庙宇理事以及这次九皇爷诞的赞助商们。

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道士在请水仪式开始前进行法事。

法事进行的过程中,大队乘着卡车与巴士陆陆续续抵达榜鹅码头。十抬轿子(九位九皇爷各一抬,斗母娘娘一抬)都有各自的抬轿者队伍。同时,法主公与善财童子的过山轿也被请到了在请水仪式的现场。

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抬轿者队伍与他们当晚所负责的轿子。

当所有轿子都抵达神坛位置后,所有抬轿者便将轿子停靠在神坛周围,等待请水仪式开始。仪式进行时,一组庙宇理事缓缓步入水中,用一个水桶来取水。完成取水动作的同时,一旁的乩身立即开始起乩,意味着庙宇已经成功迎接九皇爷的驾临。

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理事用水桶在榜鹅码头取水,迎接九皇爷的驾临。

水桶里的水则被带到神坛前,轮流导入各个九皇爷以及斗母娘娘的香炉中。每支抬轿者队伍派出一位代表,在神坛前参拜九皇爷,之后取走各自的香炉,将其双手捧在头上,跪着走回轿子。队伍代表接着将香炉放入轿子中并系好。这时,乩身、法主公与善财童子的过山轿则绕过每个九皇爷轿子,一同迎接九皇爷的驾临。

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抬轿者队伍的各个代表双手捧着香炉走回轿子。

当抬轿者队伍将所有香炉都固定在轿子里之后,轿子被逐一抬起,在神坛前游行。而轿子的激烈摇晃与摆动,更是象征着九皇爷作为神明所具有的灵气。各个抬轿者队伍在游行时也会大声歌唱与欢呼,炒热了整个庆典的欢愉气氛。

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斗母娘娘轿子的抬轿者队伍将香炉放入轿子之后,在神坛周围游行。

大队与信众在请水仪式结束后返回庙宇。道士会在帐篷内的主神坛前进行一场法事来宣告九皇爷的驾临,同时邀请众神明前来庙宇参与九皇爷诞的庆典活动。九皇爷与斗母娘娘的轿子也会到庙宇中的各个神坛参拜神明。最后,庙宇理事会在龍山岩斗母宫内将各个轿子内的香炉取出,供奉在二楼的斗母宫内殿中。

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抬轿者队伍在庙宇周围游行。

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九皇爷的轿子步入龍山岩斗母宫参拜神明。

 

九皇爷诞之庙宇社群

为期九日的九皇爷诞中,本地各个九皇爷庙宇会派队伍前往其他庙宇游境或进香交流,友庙参访也成为了不同九皇爷庙宇社群之间互动与联系的重要媒介。九皇爷庙宇在进行友庙参访时的仪式缜密,庙宇除了会派代表在庙宇前抽打鞭子(作为净化作用),也会在庙宇的主神坛前进行集体参拜仪式以示对九皇爷与其他神明的尊敬。通过九皇庙宇社群之间的交流,我们能够窥探与了解九皇爷诞的庆典活动在不同庙宇的庆祝方法与仪式的异同。

友庙参访龍山岩斗母宫

九皇爷诞的九天中,有不少九皇庙宇前来参访龍山岩斗母宫。有的庙宇伴随着神轿和舞龙舞狮团前来游境,有的则组成进香团到龍山岩斗母宫参拜神明。前来参访龍山岩斗母宫的队伍一般会在庙宇内的不同神坛前祭拜神明,再将供品礼篮呈献给庙宇理事。有些庙宇则会派代表到龍山岩斗母宫二楼的内殿祭拜神明。离开以前,双方庙宇为巩固彼此之间的友好关系,通常会在“兴、旺、发”的喊话中欢乐地结束参访。

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准提堂成员抵达龍山岩斗母宫。

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准提堂全体参拜。

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左:南山海庙游境到龍山岩斗母宫。右:南山海庙成员手握香炉。

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左:玉封九皇殿成员在龍山岩斗母宫的主神坛前参拜神明。右:玉封九皇殿的代表在龍山岩斗母宫的内殿外参拜神明。

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蔡厝港斗母宫的代表在龍山岩斗母宫的内殿外参拜神明。

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蔡厝港斗母宫成员与龍山岩斗母宫理事合照。

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蔡厝港斗母宫成员与龍山岩斗母宫成员交流

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龍山岩斗母宫理事在庙宇前准备就绪,迎接友庙的游境团到来。

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汫水港斗母宫游境团抵达龍山岩斗母宫。

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汫水港斗母宫的持旗者与抬轿者们抵达庙宇。有别于一般的友庙进香交流,游境团的队伍和声势更浩大,庙宇成员一般会带着神明轿子与舞龙舞狮表演团游境到各个九皇爷庙宇参拜神明。

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南北斗母宫成员抵达龍山岩斗母宫。龍山岩斗母宫理事手持九皇爷的旗帜向友庙问好。

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南北斗母宫成员在龍山岩斗母宫的主神坛前集体跪拜神明。

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神仙宫成员抵达龍山岩斗母宫进香交流。一些九皇爷庙宇在参访友庙时,会派一位代表在庙宇前抽打鞭子和旗帜再步入庙宇,起着“净化”的用途。

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神仙宫成员在龍山岩斗母宫集体参拜神明。

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龙南殿成员参访龍山岩斗母宫。除了在九皇爷的主神坛前跪拜,前来参访的友庙成员一般会在庙宇的各个神坛前参拜神明以示尊敬。

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龙南殿与龍山岩斗母宫理事进行交流。

龍山岩斗母宫进香团参访友庙

今年的九皇爷诞,龍山岩斗母宫组成了一组进香团,在两个晚上里代表庙方参访了十二间九皇庙宇。进香团由大约三十位庙宇理事与义工组成,一组人乘坐私人巴士走访各大九皇庙宇参拜神明。在参访友庙时,龍山岩斗母宫今年的炉主会负责背着庙宇的香炉,理事也会带着祭拜神明所需的香烛与供品礼篮。如同前去龍山岩斗母宫的友庙,龍山岩斗母宫在参访友庙时,也会呈献一个供品礼篮,然后派代表到友庙的内殿祭拜九皇爷。参访结束前,友庙一般会邀请进香团留下来享用庙宇所准备的斋菜。

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龍山岩斗母宫理事到准提堂进香参拜。

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准提堂理事将庙宇的香灰交给龍山岩斗母宫。

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进香交流结束后,准提堂理事恭送龍山岩斗母宫。

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龍山岩斗母宫师父在凤山宫外为庙宇香炉添上檀香木。

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凤山宫理事热烈欢迎龍山岩斗母宫成员。

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龍山岩斗母宫历史在凤山宫神坛前参拜神明。

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南北斗母宫理事在庙宇前迎接龍山岩斗母宫成员。

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龍山岩斗母宫将供品礼篮献给南北斗母宫理事。

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龍山岩斗母宫在集体参拜前做准备。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员在南北斗母宫的主神坛前集体参拜神明。

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后港斗母宫理事与龍山岩斗母宫理事进行交流。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员在后港斗母宫的主神坛前集体参拜神明。

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后港斗母宫赠送给龍山岩斗母宫的供品礼篮。

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龍山岩斗母宫抵达南山海庙进香交流。

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南山海庙赠送供品礼篮给龍山岩斗母宫。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员抵达玉海棠观音堂。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员在九皇殿进香参拜神明。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员手持九皇殿赠送的供品礼篮。

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进香交流夜晚的下一站:金山寺斗母宫。

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龍山岩斗母宫理事与金山寺斗母宫交流。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员在龙南殿的主神坛前集体参拜神明。

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参与进香交流团的龍山岩斗母宫女性义工们。

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龍山岩斗母宫师父带领进香团在九皇殿集体参拜神明。

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龍山岩斗母宫与九皇殿交换供品礼篮和合照。

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汫水港斗母宫代表在庙宇前用鞭子进行“净化”仪式。

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汫水港斗母宫负责人与龍山岩斗母宫师父合照。

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抵达神仙宫。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员在神仙宫集体参拜神明。

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龍山岩斗母宫的理事和义工乘坐巴士前往各个九皇爷友庙进香交流。

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龍山岩斗母宫成员在蔡厝港斗母宫进香参拜神明。

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龍山岩斗母宫理事与蔡厝港斗母宫理事交换供品礼篮。

九皇爷诞之仪式

过平安桥仪式

一般相信,在九皇爷诞时举行“过平安桥”仪式,能够起到净化的作用。因此在龍山岩斗母宫,过平安桥的仪式是每年庆典活动不可缺少的一个环节。过平安桥的仪式在农历九月初六这晚举行,吸引了不少信众前来参与。

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傍晚时分,庙宇理事赶在仪式开始前组装好“平安桥”。

当平安桥组装完毕后,道士会围绕着平安桥,在主神坛前进行净化仪式,为一会儿的过桥仪式做准备。

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道士在平安桥周围进行净化仪式。

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主神坛前摆放了过平安桥仪式所需的供品。

欲参与过平安桥仪式的信众首先会到庙宇柜台购买一套供品(包括了金纸与纸扎人),再根据自己的生肖排队等候过桥。道士会负责引领各生肖的信众围绕庙宇内的各个神坛,然后一个个走过平安桥。庙宇理事则负责在一旁引导信众,同时在信众过桥时,用九皇爷的印章与旗帜为信众祈福。

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龍山岩斗母宫的过平安桥仪式。庙宇理事在信众过桥时用九皇爷的旗帜与供品为信众祈福。

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信众所添购的供品在过平安桥仪式结束后进行焚烧。

 

邀请宗教团体举行仪式

龍山岩斗母宫今年在庆祝九皇爷诞时,邀请了两组宗教团体——佛教团体云南善堂、道教合妙道云,在庙宇内举行宗教仪式来祭拜神明以及安抚亡魂。

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云南善堂成员在神坛前用米粒刻画清地藏王菩萨画像。

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云南善堂在龍山岩斗母宫设置神坛为孤独亡魂举办超度仪式。

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云南善堂成员为孤独亡魂举办超度仪式。

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龍山岩斗母宫在超度仪式为孤独亡魂准备的食物供品。

 

农历九月初六,龍山岩斗母宫邀请了道教团体合妙道运,从早上到下午时举行道教仪式。这些仪式包括祭拜天公,以及为神明准备食物供品敬桌。

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龍山岩斗母宫在敬桌仪式上供奉斋菜给神明享用,每张椅子也都铺上了神明的神袍、金纸和香烛。理事在敬桌仪式时也会倒水给神明享用。拜天公仪式在恭送神明之后结束。

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道士们带领龍山岩斗母宫的理事与信众祭拜神明。

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主神坛摆放着九皇爷的供品。

九皇爷诞之乩身

周先生是龍山岩斗母宫的师父和乩身,在九皇爷诞的庆典过程中,周先生一般会起乩成九皇爷、法主公、大圣公和斗母宫的创始人传喜师父。

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乩身(周先生)在请水和送水仪式上起乩成九皇爷

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乩身(周先生)在一场佛教超度仪式上,起乩成传喜师父进行巡视。

            乩身在九皇爷诞的庆典活动上,曾起乩成不同九皇爷,如九皇三帝、九皇五帝和九皇九帝。九皇爷会给予理事有关庆典的仪式,同时让信众与理事问事。  

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乩身(周先生)上身九皇二帝,手持九皇二帝的木剑、印章、神袍与旗帜。

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乩身(周先生)上身九皇五帝。九皇五帝也是龍山岩斗母宫主要供奉的神明之一,神明正在给予理事有关九皇爷诞的指示。

每当开放给神明问事时,庙宇信众会在九皇爷的主神坛前列队问事。根据庙宇的说法,每一位九皇爷都有各自的“专长”,例如健康、财运或工作等等。

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信众在过平安桥仪式后向九皇九帝问事。

 

除了周先生以外,龍山岩还有两位法主公的乩身。法主公乩身在九皇爷诞的庆典时也会起乩,向九皇爷问好以及敬茶,显现了在龍山岩斗母宫里,不同神明、信仰和庙宇之间的联系。

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两位法主公乩身在庙宇前向九皇爷问好。

九皇爷诞之送水仪式

护送九皇五帝圣驾回銮

九月初九,龍山岩斗母宫进行送水仪式恭送九皇爷,同时象征这一年的九皇庆典正式结束。庙宇理事与义工在送水仪式前一晚(农历九月初八)就已经开始准备纸制供品(纸船、金纸、神明衣袍等),并将这些供品放入焚烧炉,待隔日仪式结束后进行焚烧。庙宇理事也会将其他纸制供品(如纸船、纸莲花、保身符)放入龙船中。在送水仪式当天,装满供品的龙船会被迁移至榜鹅码头进行焚烧。

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纸制供品如金纸和神明衣袍等被放入焚烧炉,待隔日送水仪式结束后进行焚烧。

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庙宇理事将纸制供品放入龙船。

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龙船内的供品包括保身符、金纸和纸莲花等。

九月初九当天,在信众前往榜鹅码头进行送水仪式前,龍山岩斗母宫首先在庙宇内举行了一系列仪式,包括将高挂在竹子上的九皇灯取下。理事也将立在庙宇前的竹子迁走,锯成小段后放置焚烧炉内。

傍晚时分,舞龙舞狮队抵达龍山岩斗母宫,为一晚的庆典活动拉开帷幕。庙宇的两位法主公乩身开始起乩,向九皇爷致上敬意。庙宇理事与义工在主神坛前集合,进行磕头仪式后再将九个九皇爷轿子移驾至榜鹅码头。

值得注意的是,在请水仪式时,一共有十抬轿子被移驾至码头参与仪式,而到了初九的送水仪式时,却只有九抬轿子。第十抬轿子,也是斗母娘娘的专属轿子,则会留在庙宇内,无需参与送水仪式。

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庙宇理事与义工在主神坛前集体跪拜。

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前往榜鹅码头前的大合照。

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庙宇理事前往榜鹅码头途中。

与此同时,在榜鹅码头这里,龍山岩的一组理事已经准备就绪,在码头旁完成设置神坛及停靠龙船的工作。

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庙宇理事在榜鹅码头设置神坛。

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理事将龙船移至码头旁的水域。

送水仪式开始前,道士在神坛前进行法事,庙宇的信众也陆续抵达榜鹅码头,等待仪式开始。

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理事与信众参与送水仪式前的祭拜仪式。

庙宇人员与信众在约晚上九点抵达榜鹅码头。九抬九皇爷轿子包围着神坛周围,在舞龙舞狮的锣鼓声中摇摆晃动。

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九皇爷轿子抵达榜鹅码头。

送水仪式进行时,九位抬轿者负责将轿内的香炉取出,双手举起香炉并以跪拜姿势将其交给一位庙宇理事,理事则负责将香炉并列放置在神坛桌上。这时道士会进行法事,庙宇理事轮流在神坛前为神明上香后,再逐一将九皇爷香炉移至龙船上。

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抬轿者从九皇大帝和九皇三帝的轿子中取出香炉。

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抬轿者从九皇五帝的轿子中取出香炉。

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抬轿者将香炉交给庙宇理事。理事负责将九个香炉并列放置在神坛桌上。

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庙宇理事将九皇爷香炉移至龙船上。

龙船由快艇迁移至榜鹅码头附近的海域,并由庙宇理事见证焚烧龙船的仪式。

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庙宇理事乘坐快艇,将金纸放入龙船中,再以火把燃烧龙船。

当庙宇理事正在焚烧龙船时,其他理事与信众则回到龍山岩斗母宫,一齐参加“送众神”仪式来总结整个节日。送众神,意指在九皇庆典活动正式结束后,恭送过去九天曾在庙宇参与庆典的众神明。道士带领庙宇理事与信众进行法事,最后再焚烧所有供品。

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送众神仪式在焚烧供品后结束,也代表这一年的九皇庆典正式结束。

庙宇理事接着将众神明的神像取下,九皇神坛与轿子也被拆下,搬移回到庙宇内。

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理事将众神明神像搬移回庙宇内。

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义工在九皇庆典结束后将神坛拆下。

鸣谢

我们由衷感谢龍山岩斗母宫给予我们这个难得的机会,前往庙宇窥探与记录九皇爷诞的庆典活动。经历两年的研究计划,我们很荣幸能够见证庙宇理事与义工们对于这个庆典所付出的一切辛劳和贡献。在我们眼里,这些人是非常重要的一群无名英雄—— 一群正在默默守护与传承本地九皇文化与传统的继承者们。宗教与宗教活动构成我们历史的一大部分,在社会中的不同群体心中扮演着情感与心灵寄托的重要角色。来自各行各业、生活背景各异的信众秉持着相同的信念,通过九皇爷诞的庆典活动聚集一起,形成了一个独特的社群,参与发扬这个属于本地以及东南亚的文化与传统的工作。能够将九皇文化一代代地延续并传承,龍山岩斗母宫的全体人员功不可没。

 

Leng San Giam Dou Mu Gong 龍山岩斗母宫 2017 [English Version]

Situated along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, Leng San Giam Dou Mu Gong (LSGDMG) is part of the Ang Mo Kio Joint Temple together with two other temples, Kong Lim Kong and Kim Eang Tong. Founded by the late Master Chuan Xi in the 1970s at Kim Tian Road, LSGDMG was formerly known as Bukit Batok Dou Mu Gong and worships the Jiu Huang Wu Di (九皇五帝, Fifth Emperor God) as its main deity. The temple shifted to Bukit Batok in the 1980s, where it was well known among nearby residents for its yearly celebrations of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival during the 9th lunar calendar month.

Since 2011, Bukit Batok Dou Mu Gong has merged with Leng San Giam, and is now situated at the second level of the temple at Ang Mo Kio. Besides worshipping the Nine Emperor Gods, the three-story temple also worships other deities, such as the three Fa Zhu Sheng Jun (张/肖/章公圣君), Da Sheng Gong (大圣公) and etc.

Preparation before the Nine Emperor Gods Festival

Even though the yearly Nine Emperor Gods Festival officially starts in the 9th lunar month, preparation work at LSGDMG started at least a month before the festival. This includes the setting up of altars within a makeshift tentage outside the temple, the cleaning of deities’ statues, and the assembling Nine Emperor Gods’ sedans.

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Temple committee preparing flags and paper offerings to be used during the festival.

The fully decorated sedans would be transported to a makeshift tentage behind the temple, where the committee members would clean, mend and ensure that the sedans were in good condition before the festival.

Assembling and maintaining the sedans of the Nine Emperor Gods before the start of the festival.

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Putting up the Nine Emperor Gods’ banners around the makeshift tentage.

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Temple committee and helpers carrying the dragon boat to the temple.

Temple helpers could also be seen packing sets of attires, which consist of a white t-shirt, white pants, white towel, white cloth to tie around the head and a yellow cloth to tie around the waist. The attire represents the mourning for the Nine Emperor Gods, and all committee members were to don on this attire throughout the entire festival.

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Committee members sorting out attires.

A day before the receiving ceremony, LSGDMG carried out a ritual at the Jiu Huang Deng (九皇灯, Nine Emperor Gods’ Lamps) altar outside the tentage for the raising of bamboo shoot, which according to the temple, would act as an ‘antenna’ for the festival to attract and guide deities to the temple. After the bamboo shoot was raised up, nine lamps (each for one of the Nine Emperor Gods) would be hung up on the bamboo shoot.

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Ritual carried out at the NEG lamp altar outside the tentage before start of the festival.

 

Receiving the Nine Emperor Gods

Each year during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the temple committee and devotees would proceed to Punggol Marina Jetty for the Receiving Ceremony, to welcome the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods. The ceremony for the year was held on 18 October 2017, on the 29th day of the 8th lunar calendar month. Before the main party departed to Punggol Marina, temple committee could be seen doing final preparations in the temple, such as securing deities’ statues onto sedan chairs and doing mass prayers in front of the main altar.

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Securing the statue of a deity onto the sedan chair.

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Spirit medium in trance at the temple before the receiving ceremony.

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Committee members and helpers doing a mass prayer before proceeding to Punggol Marina.

The first group of temple committee arrived at the jetty in the early evening to set up a makeshift altar for the ceremony. Statues of various deities worshipped by the temple were brought to the jetty and placed on the altar, together with other food and paper offerings. Ash urns for each Nine Emperor Gods were also placed neatly on the altar table.

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Set-up of altar at Punggol Marina Jetty. Statues of deities include the Guan Di (关帝, Lord Guan), Mazu (妈祖), Fa Zhu (法主公) and Da Sheng (大圣公).

Upon setting up the altar, a Taoist priest could be seen leading the temple committee in paying respects to the deities. After which he would recite a Shu Wen (疏文, spiritual petition paper), an act to seek blessings from the deities for the temple committee and sponsors of the festival, followed by reciting the Bei Dou Jing (北斗经, Northern Dipper Scripture).

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Taoist priest performing a ritual before the receiving ceremony.

While the ritual was going on, the main party and devotees from the temple began to arrive in lorries and buses. There were in total ten Nine Emperor Gods sedans (one for each deity and one for Dou Mu Niang Niang), carried by different groups of sedan carriers. Palanquins carrying the Fa Zhu and Shan Cai Tong Zi (善财童子, Sudhana) were also brought to the jetty for the receiving ceremony.

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Temple helpers tasked as sedan carriers for the Nine Emperor Gods’ sedans during the receiving ceremony.

After all the Nine Emperor Gods’ sedans have arrived, temple committee members were seen walking into the waters, carrying a pail to “receive” the water. Upon the collection of waters, the spirit medium went in trance at the same moment, which was a sign that the temple had successfully “received” the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods.

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Committee members receiving waters using a pail at Punggol Marina.

The pail of water was then poured into the ash urns belonging to each of the Nine Emperor Gods and Dou Mu Niang Niang. Every sedan would then send a representative to the main altar to pay respects to the Nine Emperor Gods, and to collect their respective urns. The representative would hold the urn on top of his head using both hands, and return to his sedan by moving on his knees. He would then place and secure the urn inside the sedan. At the same time, the spirit medium, Fa Zhu and Sudhana palanquins also came by each sedan, as a form of acknowledgement and greeting for the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods.

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Sedan representatives carrying as urns of the Nine Emperor Gods from the altar.

After all the ash urns were secured in the sedans, sedan carriers took turns to lift their sedans up, and started to parade around the altar, signifying the divine presence of the Nine Emperor Gods. The different groups of sedan carriers would also sing and cheer while parading, to hype up the atmosphere of the celebrations before proceeding back to the temple.

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Sedan representative placing an ash urn into Dou Mu Niang Niang’s sedan and parading around the altar.

As the main party and devotees return to the temple at nighttime, the Taoist priest was seen performing a ritual to announce the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods, and to welcome other deities in joining the celebrations. Sedan carriers would then carry the Nine Emperor Gods’ sedans to pay respects at the various altars within the temple. The ash urns of the Nine Emperor Gods were then removed from the sedans and brought into the inner chamber of the temple, which was located at the second floor of LSGDMG.

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Sedan carriers parading outside Leng San Giam Dou Mu Gong.

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Sedan carriers paying respects at the temple.

 Community of the Nine Emperor Gods Temples

During the 9-day festival, it is common for Nine Emperor Gods temples to conduct visitations to other NEG temples in Singapore. The visitations occurred between the temples became a medium through which the different groups from various temples could meet and interact with each other. Elaborate processions take place when other temples visited LSGDMG and vice versa– the cracking of the whip, the payment of respect towards different groups through the medium of ritual (the bowing towards the altars and the cheers at the end of the greeting ritual that occurs at every visitation). By observing the interactions between temples during the visitations, one could certainly get a glimpse of how the Nine Emperor Gods Festival is interpreted by different groups of people, which in turn brought about the different ways of celebrating the festival itself.

NEG Temples visiting LSGDMG

Various temples visited LSGDMG throughout the festivals, some came with sedan chairs and performance troupes during their Yew Keng sessions, while others came with a small group of committee temples and devotees to pay respects of behalf of their temples. Typically, temples visiting LSGDMG would pay their respects at the various altars in the tentage area around the temple, followed by the exchange of sandalwood ashes andthe presentation of gift hampers or baskets. Visiting temples would sometimes send representatives to make offerings and pay respect to the deities in the inner chamber on the second level of LSGDMG. Such visitations usually end off with cheers of ‘Heng, Ong, Huat ah’ from both temples, displaying the good relationship and bond between the various Nine Emperor Gods temples.

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Shifu welcoming guests from Zhun Ti Tang (准提堂) during a visitation.

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Members of Zhun Ti Tang conducting mass prayers at LSGDMG.

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Left: Nan Shan Hai Miao (南山海庙) visiting LSGDMG. Right: Member of Nan Shan Hai Miao carrying an ash urn to represent the temple.

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Left: Member of Yu Feng Jiu Huang Dian (玉封九皇殿 ) praying in front of an altar at LSGDMG. Right: Representatives from Yu Feng Jiu Huang Dian paying respects to the deities outside the inner chamber at LSGDMG.

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Member of Choa Chu Kang Tao Bu Keng Temple (蔡厝港斗母宫) paying respects to the deities outside the inner chamber at LSGDMG.

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Members of Choa Chu Kang Tao Bu Keng Temple with the committee members of LSGDMG.

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LSGDMG committee exchanging greetings with Choa Chu Kang Tao Bu Keng Temple.

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LSGDMG committee gears up and awaits the arrival of a visiting temple at the entrance of the tentage.

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Jing Shui Gang Dou Mu Gong(汫水港斗母宫) arrives at LSGDMG during its Yew Keng session.

  

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Flag bearers and sedan chair carriers from Jing Shui Gang Dou Mu Gong. Unlike usual visitations by temple committee and devotees, visiting temples on a Yew Keng session would be seen with a larger congregation, bringing along the deities’ sedan chairs and/or flags to pay respects at the host temple.

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LSGDMG committee member exchanging greetings with Nan Bei Dou Mu Gong (南北斗母宫) with a Nine Emperor God’s flag.

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Members of Nan Bei Dou Mu Gong conducting a mass prayer in front of the main altar at LSGDMG.

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Members of Shen Xian Gong (神仙宫) visiting LSGDMG. For some visiting temples, a representative would be sent to ‘cleanse’ the area at the entrance of the host temple with a whip or flag before the congregation moves into the host temple.

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Shen Xian Gong members conducting mass prayers at LSGDMG.

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Temple visitation by Long Nan Dian (龙南殿). Members of the visiting temples could usually be seen conducting mass prayers on their knees at the various altars in the host temple as a form of showing respect to the deities.

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Exchange of greetings between members of Long Nan Dian and LSGDMG.

Visitation to other NEG Temples

For the festival this year, LSGDMG visited 12 Nine Emperor Gods temples across Singapore over the span of two nights. The visiting congregation consisted of about 30 temple committee members and helpers travelling together in a chartered bus for both nights. During the visitations, LSGDMG would bring along the urn carrying the temple’s ashes, carried by the Lu Zhu (炉主) of this year’s festival, as well as offerings such as joss sticks and candles. Flags of the Nine Emperor Gods were also brought to represent the divine powers of the deities, as well as gift hampers to be presented to host temples during the visitations. Similar to visitations by other temples, representatives from LSGDMG would mostly be invited to the inner chambers of the host temples to pay respects to the Nine Emperor Gods. Host temples would also typically invite members of the visiting temples for a vegetarian meal offered by the temple.

  

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LSGDMG paying respects to the deities at Zhun Ti Tang.

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Exchanging sandalwood ashes with Zhun Ti Tang.

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Zhun Ti Tang members sending LSGDMG members off after the end of a visitation.

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Shifu refilling the sandalwood ashes in the temple’s urn carried by the Lu Zhu outside Hong San Temple (凤山宫).

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Committee members of Hong San Temple welcoming LSGDMG during a visitation.

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LSGDMG members paying respects at Hong San Temple.

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Members of Nan Bei Dou Mu Gong awaiting the arrival of LSGDMG at the entrance of the temple.

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Member of LSGDMG presenting a gift hamper to Nan Bei Dou Mu Gong.

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LSGDMG preparing for mass prayers at Nan Bei Dou Mu Gong.

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Conducting mass prayers at Nan Bei Dou Mu Gong.

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Exchanging of greeting between LSGDMG and Hougang Dou Mu Gong Temple.

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Conducting mass prayers at Hougang Dou Mu Gong Temple.

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LSGDMG’s committee member holding the gift from Hougang Dou Mu Gong Temple.

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Left: Arrival at Nan Shan Hai Miao; Right: Preparing for mass prayers at Nan Shan Hai Miao.

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Receiving of gift from Nan Shan Hai Miao.

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Arrival at Jee Hai Tung Kwan Im Welfare Society(玉海棠观音堂).

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LSGDMG member leading a prayer at Jiu Huang Dian.

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LSGDMG member holding the gift from Jiu Huang Dian.

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Arriving at Kim San Tze Temple (金山寺斗母宫) on a late night for visitation.

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Committee members exchanging greetings with host temple.

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LSGDMG members conducting mass prayers at Long Nan Dian.

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Female helpers from LSGDMG joining the temple visitations.

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Shifu seen leading LSGDMG members for mass prayers at Jiu Huang Dian.

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Exchange of greetings and gifts with Jiu Huang Dian.

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Member of Jing Shui Gang Dou Mu Gong ‘cleansing’ the area with a whip.

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Exchange of greetings with Jing Shui Gang Dou Mu Gong.

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Arrival at Shen Xian Gong.

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Conducting mass Prayers at Shen Xian Gong.

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Members of LSGDMG travelling to different Nine Emperor Gods temples for visitations in a chartered bus.

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Conducting prayers at Choa Chu Kang Tao Bu Keng Temple.

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Exchange of gifts and greetings with Choa Chu Kang Tao Bu Keng Temple. 

Rituals and the Nine Emperor Gods

Bridge-Crossing Ceremony

It is believed that during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, bridge-crossing ceremonies are performed as rituals of purification. In Leng San Giam Dou Mu Gong, the bridge-crossing ceremony (过平安桥) is held every year during the festival. For this year, the procession was held on the 6th day of the festival (25 October 2017).

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Temple committee setting up the Ping An Bridge (平安桥) before the ceremony starts.

After setting up of the Ping An Bridge, a Taoist priest could be seen performing a cleansing ritual at the main altar and the surrounding area of the bridge before the procession starts.

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Taoist priest cleansing the surrounding area before the procession begins.

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Altar set-up during bridge-crossing ceremony.

Devotees would purchase a set of incense paper to join the procession, before queuing up according to their zodiac signs to cross the bridge. Led by the Taoist priest, devotees would place monies in any denominations in the pail by the side of the bridge before crossing the bridge. Committee members would brush the Nine Emperor Gods flags and staffs over the devotees and stamp a red seal on the devotees’ backs, as acts of good blessings.

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Bridge-Crossing processions at LSGDMG.

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Sets of incense papers to be burnt after the bridge-crossing ceremony ends.

 

Rituals held by external religious groups

For this year’s Nine Emperor Gods Festival, LSGDMG invited two external religious groups, Yun Nan Shan Tang (云南善堂) and He Miao Dao Yun (合妙道运) to conduct rituals at the temple during the festival.

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Members of Yun Nan Shan Tang members carving out an image of a Buddha (清地藏王菩萨) using rice grains.

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The altar set-up for a Buddhist Chao Du (超度) ritual conducted by Yun Nan Shan Tang.

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Members of Yun Nan Shan Tang performing a Buddhist Chao Du (超度) ritual, assisted by LSGDMG committee members.

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Preparing the offerings used for a Chao Du ritual to release souls of the dead from sufferings.

On the 6th day of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, various sets of ongoing rituals could be seen held from the morning till late afternoon at the temple. The temple invited Taoist group He Miao Dao Hui (合妙道运) to conduct the rituals, such as the invitation of the Heavenly God (天公), and inviting deities to a feast prepared by the temple.

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Tables of vegetarian dishes were served as feasts offered to the deities. Each chair was covered with a decorated cloth, and a stack of incense paper and a lit joss stick is placed on top of the chair. The committee members would serve drinks during the feast. The celebration would end with a ritual to send off the Heavenly God.

  

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A group of Taoist priests leading the temple committee and devotees for a prayer to the deities.

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Offerings made to the Nine Emperor Gods at the main altar.

Spirit mediumship and the Nine Emperor Gods

The shifu and spirit medium of LSGDMG, Mr Chew, could be seen trancing into the different Nine Emperor Gods throughout the festival. Other than trancing into Nine Emperor Gods, the spirit medium would sometimes also trances into Fa Zhu, Da Sheng Gong and also the late master of the temple, Master Chuan Xi.

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Spirit medium trancing into one of the Nine Emperor Gods during the receiving and sending off ceremonies at Punggol Marina.

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Mr Chew trancing into the late Master Chuan Xi, founder of LSGDMG, during a Buddhist reincarnation ritual held at the temple.

On several occasions during the festival, the spirit medium tranced into the different Nine Emperor Gods to give the temple committee instructions regarding the festival, and also to provide consultations for the temple devotees.     

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Spirit medium trances into the Second Emperor God, with his sword, flag and seal as a form of identification.

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Spirit medium trances into the Fifth Emperor God, also the main deity worshipped by the temple, giving instructions to the temple committee members.

When the deity is available for consultations, temple devotees would usually form a queuing in front of the main altar to seek answers from the deity. According to the temple, it is believed that each of the Nine Emperor Gods ‘specializes’ on a specific area of expertise, ie. Health, Fortune and Work etc.

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Temples devotees consulting the Ninth Emperor God after the bridge-crossing ceremony.

It should be noted that there are two other spirit mediums in Leng San Giam, in-charge of trancing the other two Fa Zhu Gong. The two spirit mediums would go into trance during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival too, and when they do, they would exchange greetings with the Nine Emperor Gods and offer tea to them at the altar, showing the relations between different temples within the LSGDMG compound.

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Two spirit mediums trance into Fa Zhu Gong, awaiting at the temple to greet the Nine Emperor Gods.

Sending off the Nine Emperor Gods

The sending off ceremony was held on the final (ninth) day of the festival, signifying the end of this year’s celebrations. On the night before the final day, temple committee and helpers could be see preparing various paper offerings (paper boats, gold nuggets, deities’ robes etc), placing them into an incense burner to be burned as the ceremony ends the next day. More items were placed into the dragon boat as the sending off ceremony at Punggol Marina Jetty approaches. Some items include paper boats, lotus flowers, and red packets containing amulets.

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Offerings such as deities’ robes and incense paper were placed in the incense burner before the start of the sending off ceremony.

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Committee member placing paper offerings into the dragon boat.

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Bao Shen Fu (Protection amulets), incense papers shaped as gold nuggets and lotus flowers were placed inside the dragon boat.

On the final day of the festival, rituals were held during the daytime in the temple before the main party sets off to Punggol Marina for the sending off ceremony. One of the rituals held was the lowering of the Nine Emperor Gods’ lamps, which were hung on the bamboo placed at the Jiu Huang Deng (Nine Emperor Gods’ Lamps) altar during the festival. The bamboo was then also brought down and sawed into pieces, before being placed in the incense burner along with other offerings.

As dusk sets in, lion and dragon dance troupes arrived at the temple, signifying the start of the celebrations for the night. Spirit mediums of the temple were seen trancing into the two Fa Zhu deities, greeting and paying respects to the Nine Emperor Gods. Temple committee and helpers then gathered around the main altar, performing a kowtow ceremony before assisting the transportation of sedans to Punggol Marina.

Something interesting to note of, is that while there were ten sedan chairs being transported to the jetty during the receiving ceremony, only nine sedans were present at the jetty for the sending off ceremony. The tenth sedan, Dou Mu Niang Niang’s, stayed in the temple as the congregation proceeded to send off the Nine Emperor Gods.

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Temple committee and helpers doing a mass prayer in front of main altar.

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Group photo before departing to Punggol Marina.

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Temple committee on their way to Punggol Marina.

 

Meanwhile, a small group of temple committee had already arrived at Punggol Marina earlier to set up an altar and to move the dragon boat into the waters.

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Setting up of the altar at Punggol Marina.

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