Email Print 02 February 2012 | last updated at 12:51am
Sending a boatload of evil spirits back to hell
By KELLY KOH LING MIN
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Rare procession to rid Malacca of misfortune
A Wangkang organising committee member preparing the wooden boat that will be paraded around the streets of Malacca on Feb 6 to collect evil spirits and negative elements.
Pic by Mohd Khairul Helmy
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IT is not an annual event like Chinese New Year or Chap Goh Mei, but the Wangkang Festival is nevertheless important in the Chinese calendar, especially for the Hokkien community.
Wangkang is a festival which is believed to have its beginnings 150 years ago and it comes around once in several decades. This is only the fifth time that it is held in Malacca in the form of a boat procession.
The last three Wangkang festivals took place in 1919, 1933 and 2001, and there are no records on when the first was held in the country.
The event is aimed at ridding evil spirits in the state and country. It may be a once in a lifetime experience as it is only held when the medium at the temple gets the command from the heavens.
The 2012 Wangkang organising committee chairman, Lai Poon Pen, 55, said instructions from the "Heaven God" stated that this year is an unfortunate year as Malacca would be struck by disasters.
"It was last year when we got this important message, and I was chosen to carry out the festival."
It is also known as the King Barge Festival and it is a tradition of the Chinese Peranakan, whose ancestors migrated to Malacca from the Hokkien-speaking provinces of China during the colonial era.
"The idea of having the Wangkang boat procession around town is to collect evil spirits, wandering souls and other negative elements on the road, and send them away to bring in health, peace and happiness to the people of Malacca.
"The festival starts with the rising of the koh teng, an oil lamp on a 12m bamboo pole, to send a message to heaven that an important event will be held soon.
"As for the boat, we have different names for it each year. In 1919, it was called Lian An, meaning united peace while in 1933, the boat was named Ming An, which means people's peace. It was Jia An in 2001, meaning Malacca peace, and this year, it is Chuan An which means total peace," said Lai at the Yong Chuan Tian Temple in Banda Hilir yesterday.
He said the 5.8m-long, 2.5m-wide and 2m-high boat was made of wood by five committee members.
"The RM80,000 boat will be loaded with rice, water, wine, joss paper, herbs, pots, pans, stoves, and supplies for the evil spirits as we believe there should be an equilibrium between heaven, earth and hell."
Lai said the Tourism Ministry gave RM10,000 and the state government provided RM15,000 towards the cost of building the boat.
The rest of the money was collected from the people.
The Wangkang will be paraded in the streets here on Feb 6 -- the last day of Chinese New Year which is also Chap Goh Mei -- before being set ablaze in a bonfire.
Read more: Sending a boatload of evil spirits back to hell - General - New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/local/general/sending-a-boatload-of-evil-spirits-back-to-hell-1.40726#ixzz1lDxA289x