Going into the water during a ritual is not a common practice among mediums.
Mr Chung Kwang Tong, secretary-general of the Taoist Federation Youth Group, who is also a Taoist priest, said water rites are usually performed for those who may have drowned.
"For this, the priest does not enter or immerse himself in the water. Personal safety is the main concern, plus the priest will wear a ceremonial robe which makes it even more difficult (to enter the water)," he said.
Mr Chung added that the usual practice is for them to perform the rites on shore or on a vessel if they are required to be "in" the water.
On Saturday, Mr Kevier Ng had started the rituals at 9pm at a temple and had gone to Changi Beach at around 1am with a procession of worshippers.
After he went into a trance, he walked into the sea to continue the rituals, which were conducted for lost spirits.
It was then that a large wave was believed to have rolled in and swept Mr Ng further out.
When he did not resurface, some of his followers tried to look for him, but the search in the dark and choppy sea proved difficult.
Mr Joel Tan, 43, a medium from Yun Yin Dian in Kaki Bukit, said they do not usually perform water rituals because there is an element of danger.
But for those who do, it is important that helpers accompany the medium into the water, he added.
Madam Hu Laishuang, 63, a medium of 48 years, agreed. She does not offer such services as it is too risky.
She said: "No one can predict the currents or tide, so safety measures would have to be taken."
Mr Tan said the most common water rite done is believed to help one turn his luck around or "zhuan yun". It involves the devotee wearing his clothes and going into the sea, then stripping to wash away the bad luck.
The devotee then walks out of the sea naked to change into a fresh set of clothes.
Said Mr Tan: "Not many people will even want to do it since that has to be done in a public place, and it can be viewed as being in bad taste."
This article was published on April 8 in The New Paper.
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