JOHOR BARU - Johoreans welcomed the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods in time for the gods' birthday celebration and festival, which falls on the ninth day of the ninth Lunar calendar.
Devotees dressed in all white with yellow accents, received the gods in a ritual by the sea at Danga Bay here on Oct 1.
A special joss stick urn, made specially for the Nine Emperor Gods, of Jiu Hwang Ye in mandarin, filled with gold joss papers folded into shapes of ingots was brought to the seaside on a palanquin.
Despite the heat from the sun, devotees conducted a ritual and chanted prayers to invite the gods and waited for their arrival at around 3pm.
Accompanied by clangs of symbols and dragon dance, the gods were then brought to the Sam Siang Keng temple in Jalan Yahya Awal here to "lodge" for the next two weeks building up to the gods' birthday, which is Oct 13 on the Gregorian calendar.
The temple's chairman Tan Seng said it was a common practice for devotees, usually made up of the temple's top committees, to invite the gods from the water to land.
"This has been our practice for the past 60-odd years since the temple's inception in 1955.
"The festival is usually celebrated on the first nine days of the month where devotees will observe a strict vegetarian diet and refrain from vice activities until the festival is over," he said when met here recently.
Throughout the period, thousands of devotees, some from Singapore would visit the temple to pray and pay their respects to the gods and ask for blessings and good fortune.
A whole host of activities would also be held at the temple during the stretch of celebration including Chinese opera shows, charity sales, food stalls and cleansing rituals.
On the ninth day of the month, Tan said that another ceremony would be conducted to send off the gods back to the sea.
"The special urn will be filled with joss ashes, gold paper ingots to be loaded up into a specially made wooden boat to be burnt in the middle of the sea," he said.
Tan explained that the boat, weighing about 200kg and loaded up with various offering items and prayer paraphernalia, would be pulled by a motorboat into the sea before setting it on fire.