After Aric had heard that a temple near Kuala Pilah had built three giant joss sticks for an upcoming festival., he suggested that we should go there and have a look. Kuala Pilah, in Negeri Sembilan is quite far from KL and it took us almost two hours to reach the temple. The temple is located about 7 km sount of Kuala Pilah, along the road to Tampin. We were not the only visitors, there was a massive crowd. Well organised, we followed instructions to find a parking place.
We started our visit with the giant joss sticks. And huge they are, almost 20 meter tall. Visible from far away.
.The yellow ribbon left is a tape measure. Starting from 0 m at the top until almost 20 m at the bottom.
Beautifully decorated with dragons. Here are details from the three sticks
Left the top part of the center joss stick. Notice the many supporting cables in the right picture.
There is a lot more to see in this Si Thean Kong temple. It is a Taoist temple, dedicated to the Nine Emperor Gods. Originally it was located in the center of Kuala Pilah, but moved to this new location in 2015. Still not yet completely finished, there are plans to add a pagoda, but already quite spectacular.
The Nine Emperor Gods festival takes place in the beginning of the ninth lunar month, culminating on the ninth day. This year that will be on 4 October and that explains the huge crowd of devotees. On that day the crowd will be much larger. Usually the temple will be more quiet, see this YouTube video.
Here is a drone video of the temple complex, taken by Aric.
We walked down from the joss sticks to the main temple.
The main temple
Inside the temple you have to take off your shoes. Better remember where you left them, with this crowd it might be not easy to find them back. You can give a donation for the ongoing construction.
After visiting the temple we walked around. Well organised. Here a view of the monumental entrance arch. Tables and chairs for the visitors to rest.
And eat! There was a hall were free food was served, I had a plate of mee goreng , while Aric was busy droning. The right picture shows a contraption, where a waterspout would rise in the air when you blew in the horn. Not related to the Nine Emperor Gods, just fun for young and old.
I took a short video of the horn blowing.
Here is the monumental stone arch, the biggest in Malaysia and already in the Malaysia book of records.
View from the roadside. At the main event on 4 October, there will be a big procession, where the “boat” in the right picture will take part.
We made another round, climbing up to the joss sticks and down again to the crowd
Aric took another video of the temple complex.
The crowd had grown a lot
There was entertainment, left a traditional Chinese opera, right a modern light show.
There were also many food stalls, but with very long queues, so we gave up, walked back to our car and had a late dinner at a Malay stall in Kuala Pilah.
This temple will become a major tourist attraction in Negeri Sembilan and even in Malaysia. Many of my friends are not yet aware of this place.
On 1 February the Chinese year of the Tiger started. As a preparation for a New Year, Chinese buy new clothes and have a haircut. We did the same, in the left picture I am standing in a shopping center next to my own zodiac sign.
A 29 January the management of our condo had organised a simple Lion Dance.at our swimming pool. Fun for the kids.
The traditional wish for CNY is Gong Xi Fa Cai (in Mandarin, “Congratulations and may you be prosperous”). Here is my CNY wish, from our new penthouse.
On CNY-eve, 31 January, we went back to Parit Baru, Aric’s hometown. That is a yearly tradition, but last year it was impossible because of the Covid 19 pandemic and travel was very limited. Click here for a report about CNY 2020. .
This year travel was allowed again and we were fully vaccinated, but it was still advised anyway to take a Covid antigen test. Already on our way, we heard that one of Aric’s brothers had tested positive, although vaccinated. So we decided also to take a test and started looking for a pharmacy. Many were closed, but we found one in Tanjung Karang. Aric bought two test kits and we took the test in our parked car. ;-). Fortunately we were both negative.
We arrived in Parit Baru in the afternoon.. Here is a Google Earh map of the village and its location in the most northern part of Selangor. . The Bernam River forms the boundary with Perak. Parit Baru is surrounded by fishing villages.
There was time to take some photos of the surroundings. Nothing spectacular, just quiet agricultural countryside.
Then it was time for the CNY-eve dinner, traditional steamboat. Three families live in the kampung house, so dinner was in several sessions.
.Here is the kampong house. It may be about 70 years old. The families run a successful hardware and timber store. It is basically a wooden house, only the front façade and a few other parts are in stone.
Posing in front of the house. Alone and with the children of one of Aric’s cousins. Notice how they hold puppies, the one held by the girl has just opened it eyes.
The three families have their own rooms, but share the common living room and the kitchen. Even after Aric’s parents passed away, a couple of years ago, the setup is still the same.
Although the families share the kitchen, they have their own sink, fridge, washing machine. It might be a unique construction. In this photo, Aric’s aunties to the left and Aei Ling, his sister to the right.
The house is surrounded by a big garden, with fruit trees and flower bushes.
It is a tradition that people give ang pow to relatives and friends. This time we also did it. I received myself several red envelopes with money inside 😉 The picture at the right shows that I am getting old. Sunglasses to protect my eyes and clip-on reading glasses.
In the afternoon we drove around a bit, to take pictures
Another steamboat dinner, this time with Ong (Aric’s brother in law) and nephews and nieces. Seafood can not be more fresh than here!
A curious visitor.
A few of my waterfall friends go back with CNY to their hometown Teluk Intan and several times we have used day three of the CNY to make a trip to a new/remote waterfall in the region. I decided not to join this year, feeling less confident in the jungle nowadays. Our last trip was in 2017 and not successful, here is the report : An unsuccessful waterfall trip so it was decided to give this Lata Jala another try. This time my gang reached the fall.
The first picture shows my “gang”, from left to right Siang Hui, Teoh, Nick and Joshua (a new member). Lata Jala,, in the middle, is an impressive unspoiled waterfall. The right picture shows an aerial photo of the fall, taken by Joshua’s drone.
Aric and I explore a bit more the countryside around Parit Baru. This is the Bernam river. Across the river is Perak.
Left a Taoist temple in Sg Lang, one of the Chinese fishing villages. Right a young mangrove seedling, trying to survive. Notice the numerous holes, made by tiny crabs
Back in Parit Baru, a few more family photos. A group of young ladies, Aei Ling with two cute young kids and Ong teaching his son how to ride a bike.
In the evening there was a party with yee sang and a lucky draw,
And of course there were lots of firework.
The next morning I went to the village with Ong for breakfast with Roti Tampal. I knew about Roti Telur but this was new for me. Egg on top, not inside
Before we left there was another praying session..
A few days later, there was another celebration, in Puchong with Ong and his family, He is Hokkien and for the Hokkien community day 9 of the CNY is an important date. It is the birthday of the Jade Emperor, the God of Heaven. Again there was yee sang.
And there were drinks too 😉 Ong and have a drink of the (in)famous Timah whisky and the younger generation shares a bottle of wine. Playing cards, singing karaoke, a very nice evening.
An offering table is prepared for the God of Heaven, and joss sticks are lit.
At midnight there is a lot of firework. Note how I am protecting my ears.
Last month one of our friends told us that he would have vegetarian food during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. This Taoist festival is yearly held during the first nine days of the ninth lunar month. The largest celebration takes place in Ampang, but there is also one in Taiping, which I had always wanted to see, but never had 😉 .
I asked my Taiping friends about details, and they told me that the main procession would be held on Sunday 6 October, and the fire walking on the last evening, Monday 7 October. So I booked my usual hotel Furama and arrived by train Saturday 5 October afternoon.
Taiping has become a warm nest for me, friends were already waiting at the station, and before sending me to my hotel, we had lunch in restaurant YES.
After a short rest in my hotel, and in spite of the drizzle, I decided to have a look at the Nine Emperor Gods Temple. There are three Kew Ong Yah (Nine Emperor) temples in Taiping, the original one is in Tupai, on walking distance from my hotel.
A lot of activity was going on. Devotees were praying in the temple and having (free) vegetarian food. Many of them were wearing traditional white clothes.
In the temple compound I saw already the floats and chariots that were going to be used during the procession.
That evening I had dinner again with my friends, this time in restaurant 8383 in Pokok Assam. As I said, Taiping is a warm nest for me. The food was delicious and really value for money.
The next morning was the procession. The husband of my friend Bok Kin is a descendant of Ng Boo Bee, the famous tycoon. In April they had taken me to Ng Boo Bee’s tomb, click here for the report. Ng Boo Bee’s town house is in Kota Road., the procession is always passing by there and it is a tradition that the family prepares an offering table in front of the house. Bok Kin invited me to watch the parade from there and of course I accepted her invitation.
Before the procession started, I joined the family in burning joss sticks, not surprisingly nine sticks this time 🙂
Many people were waiting for the arrival of the parade. The cream-colored building is Ng Boo Bee’s townhouse
Start of the procession. In the background the iconic Taiping clock tower.
When the chariots were close to the house and the offering table, they made a left turn and almost ran to the table, stopping just in time.
Many participants were carrying whips, using them to make a cracking sound. There were also quite a few devotees, dressed in tattered monk robes, a fan in one hand and often a bottle of beer in the other. They personify Ji Gong. Fascinating to watch.
Rocking the chariot is a common practice. I had seen it before at the Chengay festival in Johor Baru.
I kept taking pictures 🙂 .
Most of the chariots were carried by men. This one was an exception.
This Ji Gong entered the house to pay his respect to the house altar and wrote something on a piece of paper before he continued.
Another Ji Gong. His robe is tattered. His cap is covering his eyes. Holding a bottle of beer in one hand and a fan in the other. The original Ji Gong (1130-1209) ate meat, drank alcohol and did not care about his clothing… 🙂
The most fascinating part of the procession are the many men, often still teenagers, who have been piercing their cheeks, walk with hooks in their backs etc. They are called masong. Most piercing is done with long, thin, metal poles, but there were a few devotees who had used heavier stuff, like this guy who was using two swords, and the guy to the right, using a gun. Can not imagine how that can heal easily.
Here are more pictures. One guy using an umbrella, another one a tyre pump, even one carrying a ladder! Notice how all of them have one or two helpers, carrying a stool. Understandably, sometimes they have to sit down for a while 🙂
An Indian drum band added to the festive atmosphere. My friends said that this year the procession was longer than before. Several temple are contributing, and also Indians take part in the parade.
Here is another way of self-mortification , similar to what I have seen at Thaipusam, where devotees pull a chariot with ropes attached by hooks to their back. No chariot here, but other boys, pulling back, while the masong are more or less hanging forward.
More piercing of cheeks.
The last part of the procession. Devotees are carrying kavadis. Both the kavadis and the piercing have their origin in the Hindu Thaipusam tradition. Actually, there is a Hindu festival, Navaratri, during the same nine days of the ninth lunar month, but not related, as far as I know.
Heavy stuff, no wonder they sometimes have to sit down for some rest.
One of the last floats. Sprinkling (holy?) water on the crowd.
The whole parade took around 1.5 hour. After cleaning the offering table, the family invited me for lunch. Vegetarian of course 🙂
The fire walking took place on the evening of the next day, so I had plenty of time to walk around in Taiping, meet other friends, enjoy (non-vegetarian) food, etc. I have written a separate post about it, Taiping, October 2019, and will continue here with the fire walking.
The next day around 7pm, my friend Yeap picked me up from my hotel and we found a parking place not too far from the Tupai temple, where the fire walking was going to take place. We were early, a big space had been cordoned off, and people were preparing the bed of ashes. It was shorter than I had seen in Sri Lanka, many years ago.
We had a look inside the temple, where Yeap introduced me to Ong Hean Hai, the caretaker. He is standing second from right, with his children . Later he invited us to his office, where he gave an explanation about the Nine Emperor Gods festival.
There were many food stalls in and around the temple compound. In one of them they were making Yeow Char Kwai, a favorite of mine, specially when freshly fried. The name translates as Oil Fried Devils and here is the explanation for that strange name 🙂
As we were early, we had dinner there. Vegetarian curry mee, very nice. And black coffee with Yeow Char Kwai, delicious when you soak them in the coffee. In the meantime Bok Kin and Teng Hin had also joined.
Preparing for the fire walking, the devotees, dressed in white, perform several rituals. They enter the inner temple, where other people are not allowed. They walk back and forth several times to the fire walking compound, chanting.
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is associated with rain, and this time was no exception. When the fire walking was beginning around 9pm, it had also started to rain. Maybe easier for the devotees to walk on the ashes? For us onlookers, we needed an umbrella.
The lighting was not very bright, so it was difficult to take good pictures. Here are two videos I took. The devotees are circling a few times around the ashes, before they walk.
It is interesting to watch the fire walkers. Some of them walk slowly, others almost run. Some carry a child or a bundle of clothes. Because of the rain, you could not see any glowing ashes, but it still must have been burning hot. After the first group of devotees, also others try. It is said that you can only do it if you have been vegetarian during the nine days of the festival , but I doubt if that is true
AFter the fire walking was finished, we went back to the restaurant, where also many of the fire walkers were enjoying a drink, food and company.
The festival was a memorable experience for me. I took many videos dring the procession and the fire walking. Here is a collage.
In a few weeks time it will be Easter, always a time of the year that I get in the mood to listen to Passion music. See for example my posts St Matthew Passion and Stabat Mater . In this post I will write about another masterpiece of religious music, the Seven Last Words of Christ, written in 1786 by Joseph Haydn.
For those readers who are not familiar with the Christian religion, some information. Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God and that he came to Earth to save mankind by carrying the burden of their sins. His sufferings culminated in his crucifixion and his death. On the third day he resurrected from his grave and fourty days later he ascended to heaven.
The resurrection is celebrated on Easter Sunday (this year on 21 April). On the Friday before in some churches a devotion is held from noon till 3 o’clock , the Three Hours’ Agony, commemorating the three hours of Christ’s hanging at the cross. This devotion was devised in the 17th century in Peru by Jesuit missionaries and soon became popular in Europe. It consisted of sermons and meditation about the seven “words” uttered by Jesus when he was hanging at the cross.
In 1786 Joseph Haydn was requested by the clergy of the Cádiz Cathedral to compose seven instrumental adagios, to be played after each of the “words” and meditations. Not an easy job, as Haydn wrote himself: ” …. it was no easy task to compose seven adagios lasting ten minutes each, and to succeed one another without fatiguing the listeners ..“. Haydn added an Introduction and a Finale.
The work became a success immediately and the next year Haydn wrote a version for string quartet. It is this version which is usually performed nowadays. In 1801 he published a choral version.
For this blog I have used the orchestral version, recorded in 1965 in Barcelona.
I decided that it would be interesting to split the work into its separate pieces and combine them with the corresponding utterances by Jesus. The seven last words come from different gospels. Here is the introduction.
Introduzione in D minor
Luke 23:34: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do
While Jesus is hanging at the cross, he is being mocked by the Jewish rulers, the soldiers and many of the spectators.
Sonata I in B-flat major
Luke 23:43: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
Two criminals are crucified at the same time, one at Jesus’ left side, one at his right side. One of them also mocks Jesus, but the other one rebukes him, saying: we are punished for our crimes, but this man didn’t do anything wrong. And he says to Jesus: Lord, remember me when you arrive in your kingdom.
Sonata II in C minor, ending in C major
John 19:26–27: Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother
Of course Jesus’ followers are also there, among them John, the writer of this gospel. Jesus says this when he sees his mother Mary, and the “disciple whom he loved” (i.e John) standing nearby.
Sonata III in E major
Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
Jesus says this in the Aramaic language: Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani and the crowd thinks that he is calling the prophet Elijah.When somebody wants to give Jesus something to drink, they say, don’t, let’s see if Elijah will come
Sonata IV in F minor
John 19:28: I thirst
As John explains in his gospel, Jesus says this because he knows that everything has now been fulfilled.
Sonata V in A major
John 19:30: It is finished
In Bach’s St John Passion, this is one of the emotional peak moments, listen to Es ist vollbracht
Sonata VI in G minor, ending in G majorLuke 23:46: Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.After Jesus calls this with loud voice, he breathes his last.
Sonata VII in in E-flat major
Matthew 27:51: And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent
This is the description given by the gospel of St Matthew. Haydn uses it for the finale, no adagio for this part, but “Presto e con tutta la forza”!
Il terremoto (Earthquake) in C minor
When you listen to this masterwork, put the volume on loud! And when you are interested, search YouTube for The Seven Last Words of Christ. You will find many recordings.
The Kathina festival in Taiping was held this year on 8 November. About the background of this Buddhist festival you can read more in an earlier blog The Kathina Festival 2013 . This time Aric joined me. The Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary (SBS) where the festival is held, is located high up the slopes of Bukit Larut. You have to park your car at the Chinese cemetery, from where volunteers with pick-up trucks and 4WD’s bring you to the sanctuary. Perfect organisation!
Waiting at the cemetery
Well organised transport
Arrival at the sanctuary
When we arrived, around 7am(!), there was already a big crowd, enjoying the large variety of food, prepared by volunteers and free of charge. A very nice, friendly atmosphere. Our friends Mary, Jenny and George had arrived early and were busy distributing mineral water.
Many food stalls
Devotees enjoying breakfast
Enjoying the food
More and more people
Free distribution of mineral water
By volunteers Mary and Jenny
George also helping
There was a remarkable number of Myanmar devotees. I understood that many of them had been helping SBS preparing for Kathina. Another reason could be that Myanmar is Theravada Buddhist, like SBS. Do you know the difference between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism? Maybe I should write a separate blog about it..:-)
The Myanmar people carried a lot of gifts for the monks and they also performed a very nice musical show, with songs and dancing.
Carrying gifts for the monks
What they brought
No luxury stuff, household items!
One for the album
Dances with Music
One group of dancers
Around 10 am the alms giving ritual started. Very symbolic and impressive. The food stalls closed and everybody received a plastic cup with some rice in it and a small spoon. When the monks were passing you put a little bit of rice in the alms bowl they were carrying.
The food stalls closed
Plastic cups with rice
Waiting for the monks
The atmosphere was solemn. Here are two nice pictures taken by Aric.
And here is a (too) short video clip
After the alms giving the monks walked to platforms where they sat down to receive gifts from the devotees.
I thought that the monks received here their new robes, but that is not true, the devotees present gifts. A friend explained that actually only one piece of cloth is presented to the Sangha (the monk community). This is done early morning and during the day this cloth is used to make one robe. Which monk will receive this robe? During the Vassa (the period that monks don’t travel but stay in the monastery) they have to follow many rules and precepts. There are so many rules, that you can easily forget one or two..:-). My friend told me that the monk with the best “precept keeping record” gets the robe. Don’t know if it is true, it doesn’t sound very Buddhist, but it is a nice story.
The last part of the festival is a talk/lecture by the monks. We listened for a while to the English talk by the head monk (?) before we walked down. This path down had been upgraded by the Myanmar volunteers and was really a pleasure walk, back to the car.
Lecture by the head monk
Listening full of attention
Lecture in another language
Starting our walk down
I hope to attend Kathina again in the coming years.
I had never heard about the Chingay parade before I recently watched the movie The Journey. In this beautiful movie, the daughter of an old farmer in the Cameron Highlands comes back from England with her boyfriend to get married. Big clash between conservative Frankie and naive, young Benji. Frankie reluctantly agrees to the wedding, but on condition that the wedding invitations will be handed over personally to the wedding guests. This brings them to Johor Baru (JB) where at that time (three weeks after CNY) the Chingay parade is held.
I was fascinated by what I saw, so we decided to go to JB and watch it for ourselves. To break up the long way to JB, we first spent a night in Muar. An interesting town with good food and a lot of beautiful old architecture. I have published a detailed report about this trip on my Adventure Site, so here only one picture of Muar, the iconic Masjid Jamek Sultan Ibrahim, completed in 1930. The British knew how to create spectacular architecture!
In JB we had booked a room in a hotel along the route followed by the parade. A JB friend of Aric had also provided us with T-shirts we should wear when following the procession. So for the time being a Kwai Loh and a Teochew became Hakka, LOL. A bit of information about Chingay in JB might be useful:
In the Old Temple in JB, five deities reside, belonging to five different Chinese clans/dialects, Hakka, Hainanese, Cantonese, Hokkien and Teochew. During Chingay they are carried through the town, in sedan chairs, carried by devotees belonging to that clan. Here is the Hakka deity
During the parade the deities are jostled and tussled often, so they have to be expertly bound to their sedans. Here you see one passing. Of course people are taking pictures, but many, often young people, are also praying. It is not just carnival, but religious as well.
Chingay parades are held in other places as well, for example in Singapore. But the JB one is different and very impressive. After the Five deities have left the “Deities’ Depot in Jalan Ulu Air Molek, their sedans are interspersed with a variety of activities, dragon and lion dancers, stilt walkers, giant puppets, floats. A popular float was this time dedicated to the Journey movie, and main actor Frankie was present.
Here is a collection of pictures, for more pictures, see the report mentioned above. After watching the parade and having our dinner, we went back to our hotel room (on the 15th floor!), where we had a last view of the parade. We will come back next year.
On their way to the parade
Theochew in Hakka disguise
Start of the parade
One of the deities
View from our hotel room
The next day, on our way back home, we visited the Tanjung Piai National Park, the southernmost tip of mainland Asia.
On the first day of the CNY of the Horse, my friend Joe Yap and I decided to spend the day in Kuala Lumpur, visiting as many Temples, Churches, Mosques, Kovils, Viharas and Gurdwaras as we were able to find…:-)
We had a wonderful day and managed to have a look at 21 (!) Places of Worship. For a detailed report about our trip, click here. In this post I will only show pictures of the places we have visited. If I had to choose a favourite, it would be the Holy Rosary Church, built in French Gothic Revival style and completed in 1904. A real beauty, although it is a shame that next to it now high-rise condominium complexes are being built.
Here is a gallery of the other locations we have visited, in chronological order. Some of the well-known ones are missing, the Thean Hou Temple because it was too crowded with people, and several mosques because it was Friday.
Tamil Methodist Church
Kaliamman Alayam Temple
Buddhist Maha Vihara
Zion Lutheran Cathedral
Sri Kandaswamy Kovil
Sze Ya Temple
Guan Di Temple
Gurdwara Sahib Polis
Chan See Shu Yuen clan hous
Wei Zhen Gong Guan Yin temple
Wesley Methodist Church
St Anthony Church
St Andrew’s Church
St John’s Cathedral
Tatt Khalsa Diwn Gurdwara
St Mary’s Cathedral
We had prepared a map with the various locations and I also recorded the GPS-track of our route. Sometimes a bit complicated with one-way streets etc..:-) And the town was much more busy than we had expected on a CNY day.
During the rainy season (Vassa), Theravada Buddhist monks don’t travel and are going on retreat in a temple or monastery. When the rainy season is over, traditionally in October/November, the end of this 3-month retreat is celebrated during the Kathina festival.
The (legendary?) background of this festival is so interesting that I can not resist the temptation to tell you a bit about it.
A group of bhikkhus (monks) was on its way to the Buddha, when the rainy season started. Not to damage the harvest, living creatures (and themselves), they decided to stay where they were, although unhappy about the delay. After the rains stopped, they continued their travel. When they reached the Buddha, to console them, gave them a piece of cloth to stitch a robe. To stitch a robe, you need a frame, which is called a kathina. A detailed account can be found here
Nowadays the devotees offer this cloth (and other items) to the monks during the Kathina ceremony. This ceremony takes place in many locations in Malaysia, but is especially popular in Taiping, in the Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary. I have visited this beautiful, quiet sanctuary on the slopes of Maxwell Hill quite a few times.This time it was still beautiful, but not quiet with a few thousand visitors.
We went up early Sunday morning, as Jenny was a volunteer at one of the many food stalls. Food stalls, yes, because this is Malaysia, no celebration without food…:-) Probably many visitors mainly came for the free food.
Many food stalls
Jenny and friend at their stall
Free food for everybody
Enjoying their food
The Kathina procedure is as follows: the monks (this time there were seventeen plus three nuns) walk along the long row of devotees, who put a bit of rice in the alms bowl of each monk. They then proceed to their seats, where the robes and other items are given to them. One of the monks then gives a talk. It is finished around noon. Officially the cloth has to be sown into robes before the end of the day, but I don’t know if that is still the case nowadays. Here are pictures of the event.
The platform for the monks
The packages with the cloth
Waiting for the monks
Rice in small cups
Here are the monks
Collecting the rice
An older monk
And a younger one
Waiting to offer the cloth
The monks arrive
Three nuns also present
Receiving the cloth
Pleased with the gifts
Talk by one of the monks
The event was organised very well, one organiser told me there were about 400 volunteers! On our way down, we passed one of the buildings of the sanctuary. This may be where the cloth is sown into robes, as I found a picture on the Internet, which seems to be taken inside this attractive building.
This was the second time I attended Kathina, it will hopefully not be the last one.
Last week, on our way to Aric’s hometown, we had planned to visit Bukit Melawati in Kuala Selangor, but it was quite hazy that day, so we decided to cancel that plan. What to do instead? According to Aric there was an interesting Chinese temple, somewhere in the paddy fields near Sekinchan. How to find its location?
Nowadays that is easy, just take your smartphone, go to the Internet , Google for “temple Sekinchan” and hey presto, you even get a map..:-) Plus lots of extra information, for example that in 1953 (during the Emergency!) the Sekinchan farmers were relocated in three new villages, still named site A, B and C.
Here is a GE screenshot of this small Teochew village and the paddy fields. The fishing village (Bagan) in the lower left and Site A at the upper right. This image was taken in Februart 2012, when the paddy fields were barren. Interesting pattern, almost art…:-) During our visit, the seedlings had been planted, but many fields did not look healthy, the irrigation channels almost dry.
The Nan Tian temple in Site A is also called the Nine Emperor Gods temple, and attracts lots of visitors, especially during the 9th month of the Chinese calendar. Even now there was a bus from KL with devotees. From far away the temple complex is visible already.
The location is very attractive. You can climb the towers in front of the main hall, from where you have a nice view of the surrounding paddy fields, although this time it was quite hazy.
Here are a few more pictures of the temple interior.
We have to come back on a clear day…:-). There are also good seafood restaurants in Sekinchan.
The reason to visit Aric’s hometown, was that there was a Taoist temple festival in the nearby fishing village of Bagan Parit Baru. Once a year in these Teochew villages the anniversary of the temple god is celebrated. A group of actors is invited to perform Chinese opera, there are prayers and offerings. Here you see the huge joss sticks outside the temple, with the Bernam river in the background.
During the past years I have attended several of these temple festivals and slowly learned to appreciate Chinese opera…:-) I understand that in the past these performances attracted big crowds, but now many (young) people have left the villages, so the audience mostly consists of senior citizens and kids.
We came back the next morning, for the offering and praying.
Even in the morning, the opera was going on. When I was walking around the stage, one of the actors noticed me and asked me to come backstage. I felt a bit shy, so I took only a few pictures. Some actors waiting their turn to go on stage, others are working on their make-up, or putting on their costume. During the festivities, the group is camping next to the theater. How I would love to stay with them a few days and make a picture report! But there would be a insurmountable language barrier.
As a part of the praying ceremony, also the actors took part, walking in a procession to the temple. Fascinating
For Aric’s birthday, two weeks ago, I decided to surprise him with a birthday cake made by myself instead of buying one. A simple one, with his favourite strawberries and lots of cream. Note the subtle detail of crushed rose petals for decoration!
A few days later I had a routine check with my urologist. Everything was ok for a man of my age…:-) Somewhat shy I show you here a ultrasound scan of my interior, don’t ask me what it all means.
After a few weeks rest to let my knee heal, I am walking again in Kiara. Here two “green” pictures, a beautiful (harmless) tree snake and nice green flowers, name unknown.
Breakfast in IKEA after my walk. The Kiara Bunch is falling apart a bit, but here we are welcoming back Robert (at the left) after he had been several months in Melbourne. Babysitting, a common predicament for Chinese grandparents…:-)
We are just back from a few days in Sabak Bernam, Aric’s hometown. His mother had been staying with his sister for a while, and we brought her home. I am more a cat person than a dog lover, but the cute dog in the sisters house was so adorable that I had to take a picture. The haze had come back, so we cancelled our planned visit of Bukit Melawati. Instead we drove through the paddy fields, which did not look very healthy, not enough rain?
We visited a famous temple near Sekinchan, surrounded by paddy fields, see separate post. And we had dinner in Sg Besar in a restaurant famous for its chicken feet, prepared in a special way, really delicious.
In Aric’s family house you still take a bath in the traditional way, refreshing but quite cold in the morning. So you are really awake after your “mandi” and in the mood to enjoy the beautiful orchids in the garden.
There was a celebration in a nearby temple, with Chinese opera, and offerings by the villagers. See separate post .