MALACCA - Over 3,000 devotees trekked barefoot through the Jelutong Chinese Cemetery here on the 14th night of the Hungry Ghost month in a ritual thought to bring luck.
Braving the pitch dark night and the rough terrain, the devotees walked for 1.5km among the over 20,000 graves in the 19th-century cemetery in Batu Berendam on Friday.
The 14th night, which fell on Friday this year, is the eve of the middle of the month, considered to be the peak of the festival celebration.
The walk was organised by Ti Fang Fu Temple, located next to the cemetery, one the largest in the region.During the ritual, which lasted from 8.30pm on Friday till 3am the next morning, devotees made offerings to the temple's three deities - Da Ye Bo, Er Ye Bo and San Ye Bo (Eldest, Second and Third Masters) - which were revered as administrators of the underworld.
A medium chanted and blessed the long line of devotees before the ritual culminated with the palanquins containing the statues of the deities being borne back to the temple.
For the ritual to be successful, the devotees must not say a single word or look back throughout the entire procession and be barefooted.
Taiwanese Chen Li Xuan, 39, said she was thrilled to witness such an event on her first visit to Malacca.
"A friend who stays here brought us as we have never seen such a ritual before. We all joined in the queue to seek blessings, too. It was fun," she said.
Temple chairman Tey Hock Eng, 45, said the annual ceremony had grown to become a tourist attraction with those coming from as far as Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Taiwan.
"According to Taoist belief, the three deities are in charge of troubled souls in the underworld.
"By joining in the procession, the devotees are seeking blessings from the deities to increase their good luck while getting rid of the bad," he said.