Malacca Wang Kang 2012
Malacca is a UNSECO World Heritage site and like other sites, it has a long and significant history.
But Malacca might be unique among UNSECO sites to have a festival that happens when it needs to happen and cannot be determined by local tourism authorities or stake players.
This is the Wang Kang Festival organised when devotees are called upon to do so by deities. It is a ritual to cleanse the city of evil spirits and negative forces and the event almost always attracted people from the region to participate.
Wang Kang Occurrences
The first Wang Kang was believed to be held in 1846 and in the next half a century, it was held once or twice a decade till 1880.
After a lapse of 11 years, another was organised in 1891 and then 1905. Since then, Wang Kang only appeared four more times in 1919, 1933, 2001 and the current one (2012)
Wang Kang 2012
The 2012 Wang Kang was organised and hosted by Yong Chuan Tian (勇全殿, The Court of Perfect Bravery) and began with the construction of a Royal Barge measuring 5.8 m in length and a 2.4 m in width and 6.12 m in height. The construction budget was RM 80 000 not including other preparations.
The Wang Kang procession occurred on Yuan Xiao (元宵), the last day of Chinese New Year celebrations. Days before the event, crowds were already pouring into Malacca to catch a glimpse of this important event.
Prayers began a few days earlier and Yong Chuan Tian was crowded with devotees, academics, tourists and residents of the area.
The eve of Yuan Xiao was an overnight affair and the morning began with a 9 hours procession around Malacca visiting various Chinese temples including those in Malacca Chinatown. The Royal Barge was accompanied by spirit mediums, lion and dragon dances, silt walkers and other traditional arts performers.
By evening, the Royal Barge made another city tour before being sent off at the water front. The route of the Royal Barge was announced in advance and devotees and audiences lined along the entire route armed with prayer items or cameras.
The send off
At the water front, altars were set up for the priest to conduct last rituals before setting the Royal Barge on fire as a symbolic send off.
There were fireworks in the air and camera flashes on the ground as audiences sought to capture this historical moment.
As the flames die down, crowds disperse and those who miss this year’s Wang Kang will probably have to wait another decade for the next opportunity.
Event date: 6 Feb 2012
15th day of the 1st Lunar Month, Year of the Dragon