Birthday of the Monkey God
From: Tuesday, September 25 2007, 7:00 pm
to: Wednesday, September 26 2007, 6:59 pm
The Qi Tian Gong temple celebrates its resident deity, Qu Tian Da Sheng. Devotees flock from as far away as Indonesia to pay homage to their beloved Monkey God with the skewering of body parts set to rumbling drum beats, resounding gongs and the popping of Chinese firecrackers.
The Monkey God celebrated in this festival is of the Confucian variety and it's a huge occasion for the Chinese community. A grand procession of gongs and cymbals directed by a big drum winds its way up the hill featuring lions, dragons and statues of the deities - including the Monkey God - carried on chairs.
Priests and devotees call the spirit of the god into themselves and induce a trance state in which they may skewer their cheeks or tongues, slash themselves or give wishes written in blood to the crowd. They don't seem to feel the pain of their rather gruesome and self-inflicted actions. Mediums are a much sought-after and integral part of proceedings, and all who attend this festival are thought to receive blessings.
The myth goes that a brave monkey helped a pilgrim, who was sent to retrieve the Buddhist scriptures from India by a Tang Dynasty Emperor, saving him from many disasters along the way. The Monkey God is such a favourite of Singaporeans that they often ask him to be godfather to their children.