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In contact with departed ones

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In contact with departed ones

Post by alphawaves on Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:40 am


A DRIED up lime coated in thick wax dangles on a long red string. Initially still, the fruit starts swinging back and forth back before moving in a circular motion. Holding on tightly to the piece of string was the relative of a departed man. The middle-aged woman was attempting to communicate with her dead uncle at the Leong Hong Keong temple in Lorong Slim, off Perak Road, in Penang.

Lai being possesed by Tua Pek as he prepares preparing the talisman.

Dedicated to underworld deities – Tua Pek (Grand Uncle) and Jee Pek (Second Uncle), the temple is tucked away inconspicuously among a row of zinc and wooden shacks – not easy to locate unless one is familiar with the area.

The temple is normally quiet except for Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights because this is when medium Lai Seng Hee, 44, goes into a trance to assist Tua Pek devotees communicate with the deity.

“I go into a trance from 9.30pm until 1am when there are many people. I can’t turn them away especially during the Qing Ming month.

“Devotees come requesting Tua Pek to help them ‘contact’ their loved ones who are in the netherworld. It is easier to communicate with spirits at this time of the year.

“Contrary to popular belief, those who come are not punters asking for numbers. They come because they are concerned about their relatives and want to know if there is anything that they can do to help alleviate the suffering of the souls.

“They normally ask if the deceased person needs anything. These, they will later burn at the graveyard as offerings,” he said, adding it was a devotee who held the string attached to the lime.

Eng Chew (second right) communicating with daughter Ying Ying's spirit Lai (far right) and a family friend look on.

“As a medium, I only instruct them on what to do. I don’t touch the lime so when it moves, they cannot say that it is my doing. However, before they can communicate with the deceased, they must get Tua Pek’s permission,” he explained.

Qing Ming falls today as it is a leap year. On normal years, it falls on April 5.

During Qing Ming, the Chinese visit graves of deceased family members and ancestors to pay their respects. It can be done 10 days before and after the actual date of Qing Ming. Graves are weeded and cleaned, joss-paper burnt and offerings made.

“According to Taoist belief, everyone who passes on must meet Tua Pek because he is like the Angel of Death.

“I learnt to use the lime to communicate with the dead from a sifu (master) in Chieng Mai, Thailand, many years ago.

The Leong Hong Keong temple in Lorong Slim

“The first time I used this method in Malaysia was when I helped Ooi Ying Ying’s father, Eng Chew, ‘talk’ to her,” said Lai, a former electrician.

Since last year, the Leong Hong Keong temple has been in the news because of the gruesome murder of the three-year-old girl.

Seeking answers behind the death of his only daughter, Eng Chew has been a regular visitor to the temple.

The murder also drew international media coverage when a Hong Kong production company filmed a seance between Ying Ying and her father for a documentary last year.

Lai has since been helping “collect” fragments of Ying Ying’s soul and conducting religious rituals to appease her soul.

The temple, which was established more than 30 years ago, has been featured in television programmes on the supernatural.

“Actually, even before the temple was highlighted in the media, we used to have at least 40 devotees waiting to seek the deity’s help every time I went into a trance.

The Taoist deities dedicated to Tua Pek and Jee Pek.

“They come for various reasons – to help cure their illnesses, prolong the life of a sick loved one, end the suffering of a terminally ill family member, keep evil spirits away and even help discipline naughty children.

“We don’t charge a single sen. It is up to the individual if they feel like making a donation,” he said, adding that the temple gave out about 80 canes per week to help discipline disobedient kids.

“These canes are blessed by the deity and are to be placed in the house – not to hit the kids with,” he laughed, adding that devotees came from as far as Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Kedah to seek the deity’s help and blessing.

According to Lai, Tua Pek – the Chief Inspector of Hades – always carries a fan, while his assistant Jee Pek, carries a chain.

Together, the brothers are known as Poh Tiao Pek.

Normally associated with the Hungry Ghost festival, Poh Tiao Pek are among the four assistants of the Phor Thor Kong or Tai Su Yah (known variously as the God of Hell, the Evil King, the King of the Underworld, and the King of the Hungry Ghosts).

His other two assistants are Phor Kua (Secretary of Hades) whose task is to record good and bad deeds and Thor Tay Kong (Earth God).

Lai showing the canes to be blessed by Tua Pek before they are given to parents of disobedient kids.

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