All set to sail: Koh (fifth from left) and other committee members giving the thumbs up to their project at the Cheng Wah Keong Temple in Kandang.
MALACCA: Devotees of Cheng Wah Keong Temple in Kandang here will be able to witness the majestic Wangkang barge “sailing” again after 84 years.
The last Wangkang procession by the temple was held in 1933 and the next could probably be held in 2100.
Temple chairman Hau Han Lee said the Wangkang procession was unique and could only be held once the deity of the temple received a message from the heavens to hold the festival to get rid of evil spirits wandering the streets of Malacca.
“This is considered a once-in-a- lifetime experience for temple devotees and even history buffs all over the country,” he said at a press-conference at the temple here yesterday.
Also present was Jasin MCA chief Datuk Koh Chin Han who is also the temple's honorary advisor.
Hau said the temple was overjoyed when Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz confirmed his attendance for the procession on Feb 9 at 11am.
He said a carnival on Jan 31 would be a precursor to the procession at the temple site.
“We are spending close to RM1mil for the event to make it a record-breaking one,” said Hau who added that Malaysia has announced its interest in co-owning the Wangkang Procession as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage with China.
Hau urged devotees from all over Malaysia to support the unique procession before it became extinct.
Recently, the Baba and Nonya Association of Malaysia’s chairman, Ronald Gan, said efforts to declare Malacca’s unique Wangkang Procession as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage jointly with China were in the final stages.
Gan said his team had already submitted a letter of intention to the Malaysian Commissioner of Heritage on their efforts in getting joint status from Unesco.
He said China needed the assistance of another Taoist Temple in Malacca – the Yong Chuan Tian Temple of Banda Hilir – as only Malaysia had a complete record of Wangkang processions since 1911.
He said Wangkang also existed in Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan but Malacca’s Peranakan community had kept systematic records for some 100 years.
Gan said Wangkang was already declared a National Intangible Heritage in 2013. Although the custodian of the local Wangkang is the Peranakan community, the procession is an important event for Taoist Hokkiens.
The main attraction is the majestic barge pulled by devotees, gathering evil spirits on board, before it is set ablaze at the end of the procession.