|TANKI |||The Ancient Gods, Rituals and Spirit-Mediumship of Folk Taoism in Modern Singapore|
First, the tanki, performs prayers to the Jade emperor and
other main gods and deities. Then
he sits on elaborately carved “dragon chair”, so named due to the motifs of
flying dragon, Chinese mystical symbols of power and fortune.
The possession begins
Possessed by Na Zha, the tanki walks around with a pacifier
Worshippers feeding the Na Zha possessed medium with milk and sweets
He lets his head down with their legs wide apart, chanting
and calling the gods to possess him, while gradually falling into a trance.
The moment of sacred possession is often signaled by increasingly fast
gyration of his head, violent twitching of his body, and sometimes followed by
sudden movements, such as a hop onto a table or chair.
Often, the movements are so violent that the medium might hurt himself,
and the temple assistants have to hold him tight, and then helped him to put on
brightly coloured embroidered aprons which proclaim the name of the temple and
the “visiting” deity.
A deity often represented by such rituals is the Qi Tian Da
Sheng (literally meaning The Saint Equal With Heaven) or the Monkey God famous
in the great Chinese classic, Journey To The West (Xi-You-Ji), which some say is
the Chinese equivalent of the Hindu Monkey God Hanuman.
The tanki who is possessed by Qi Tian Da Sheng often jumps around with
great agility like a monkey. His
followers would follow him around, sometimes feeding him peanuts or bananas.
Another “popular” god is the child-god Ne Zha (also
known as San-Tai-Zi or the Third Prince), who is often seen holding a large
magical ring and spear while standing on wheels of fire.
Once possessed by Ne Zha, the tanki would be sucking a pacifier and
wandering around the venue with followers who pass him sweets like one would do
to children. Tankis are also often
possessed by deities such as Guan Yin, Guan Di Yeh, Ji Gong, Hei Bai Wu Chang,
Da Er Bo Yeh, etc.
As the ceremony progresses, the tanki wanders around the
temple compound amidst loud gong clamps and sacred music, followed by devout
worshippers. The tanki’s
assistant walks ahead of the tanki, waving a whip and occasionally hitting the
ground with it. This whip, known as
the fa-shen (“Whip of the Power”), usually has a wooden handle carved in the
shape of a snake’s head. It
drives away the evil spirit and clear the way for the god-possessed tanki.
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|Lonely Planet: Singapore||DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Singapore (Eyewitness Travel Guides)||Lonely Planet: Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei|
Tan Wee Cheng 2004