We Went To A Taoist Medium In Selayang

Despite being Buddhist, my family has never been devout. We have an altar at home dedicated to Guanyin (the Goddess of Mercy), and make offerings at temples during religious occasions – but they mostly stem from tradition, because these were practices handed down by our ancestors.

Lately, my mother has become increasingly spiritual. She is going through a hard time, what with old age, illness, and the inability of medicine to help alleviate the pain. I’d like to believe that religion has given her some comfort – but we’ve also advised her on the dangers of superstition, as there are many charlatans out there preying on the desperate.

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On the recommendation of a friend, she went to seek blessings for an upcoming surgery from a medium in Selayang, Kuala Lumpur. The ‘temple’ turned out to be a double-storey terrace house in a quiet neighbourhood, hardly distinguishable from the rest of the houses if not for the giant brick furnace outside (for burning offerings) and several small shrines within the compound.

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The place didn’t look much like a temple, aside from baskets of paper offerings in a corner. There were several couches at the waiting area and a large wooden altar with Buddhist and Taoist deities. I recognised the main one as Guan Yu, the general-god, and Guanyin. The altar was furnished with the usual trappings; platters of fruit, oil candles, a reflective mirror (for repelling evil spirits) and a tapestry depicting heavenly scenes.

My dad got there at about 7.30AM to get a number, as the medium is very popular. The temple opens at 9.30AM, after which the medium will see you according to the number you have written.

 

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The medium was a curly-haired lady, not much older than my mom. She had a stern face but kind eyes, and a mole almost at the centre of her forehead, like a third eye. If I passed her on the street, I would have assumed she was just another auntie going about her grocery shopping.

By the time 9.30AM rolled around, the temple was already filled with people eager to get a reading, or ask for advice and blessings. I thought that it would mostly be people my mom’s age, but there were many young people as well, some younger than me. Because most of my close friends have agnostic views towards religion, I just assumed that the younger generation did not care much for spirituality. I was obviously mistaken.

The medium here is Taoist and channels Ho Sin Gu (He Xiangu), one of the Eight Immortals in Chinese mythology and Taoist beliefs. She is the only female among the eight immortals, and in mythology, carries a lotus flower that is able to improve one’s physical and mental health.

The medium first invited the deity to enter her body. There wasn’t much pomp aside from some clapping and praying, which was very different from the deity I remembered visiting as a child, when I had seizures. The medium/deity sat at a ‘consultation’ table (reminded me of a doctor or a physician, really). There was an assistant on hand to translate, since the medium spoke in Hakka Chinese.

 

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Mom was third, and she asked for blessings for the operation to go smoothly. The medium advised that she should go for it, but it wasn’t going to be all hunky-dory because she foresaw ‘a long and difficult time’ for my mom’s illness(es), and cautioned her to be mindful of her health, avoid stress and look after her intake of food. She then proceeded to write on some talismans in red ink; some of these were to be burnt and consumed, one was to be kept on my mom’s person.

During our consultation, parents with children brought their kids to the medium for blessings. They seemed completely at ease, even going up to the medium and hugging her like a favourite grandma, so I think they come here pretty often. The medium then blessed them with a pat to the head and a stamp of Chinese characters in red ink (presumably a talisman or amulet of sorts?) to their backs.

The consultation took less than five minutes, and there was a token fee – kind of like a consultation fee when you go to the doctor’s. My mom was also advised to consume some pearl powder for recovery, which she bought at the temple.

If you’d like to ask for a reading / blessings, the temple is located at 7262, Jalan Len Omnibus, Taman Selayang Baru, Batu Caves, Selangor. 

Thoughts 

I’m an INTP, and despite my love for theories (which are intangible), reason often rules the roost – so faith is something I seriously lack.  It is not that I don’t believe in the supernatural or a higher power, it is simply that I don’t believe in much of what makes up organised religion. The reason I call myself a Buddhist is because Buddhist teachings centre around morality, rather than reliance on a higher power. My favourite quote is about how the Buddha only “points the way; but it is you yourself who must walk the path.” There is no ‘if you don’t believe in this, you go to hell’, or ‘you must pray to god to for salvation’. Buddha’s philosophies are about leading a mindful life.

Taoism, a relatively new religion rife with Chinese culture, Buddhist teachings and Chinese folk beliefs, requires a faith in the supernatural which I do not have. That being said, visiting a medium was still an interesting insight and experience, and it is heartening to see the solace and comfort many people find in their beliefs. If it makes things more bearable for them, then why not?

My mom often chides me about my non-belief. “I was like you when I was younger. I felt like I didn’t need god. But when you’re closer to death’s door, you will understand.” Perhaps, but that time has not come. In the meantime, I’m quite content just following what I feel is best, doing and practising good deeds.

PS: Mom had her surgery and is in recovery at the moment.

 

 

 

Feel the Fear @ Nights of Fright 5, Sunway Lagoon – Malaysia’s Largest Festival of Fear

It’s night.

You’re in a theme park after hours.

A mist swirls around your feet, curling and uncurling like fingers. An eerie laugh cuts through the night air, sending chills down your spine. You round the corner and you meet..

A whole lot of nope.

As Jigsaw peddles towards you, you take a few steps back, turn, and run the other way, towards the exit. But as you approach the gates, you meet a figure. He closes in and… !

You let out a scream… but realise you’re not in a horror movie after all and you’re not doomed to some gory, impending death.

After all, it’s only Nights of Fright 5, Malaysia’s largest festival of fear – returning this Halloween to Sunway Lagoon to scare the living daylights out of patrons. 😀

Held throughout the month of October, the theme park comes to life (lol) after dark with various denizens of death: ghoulies and ghosties from both East and West. The gates of horror opened last weekend, and will remain open until the 31st. And they’ve got some pretty scary things in store for the brave (?) soul who dares to venture in.

Occult fans will know of Mexico’s infamous Isla de la Munecas, or Island of the Dolls – said to be haunted by restless spirits who make the hundreds, if not thousands, of dolls on the swampy island their home. Described as one of the ‘creepiest places on earth’, the bizarre collection began when the island’s owner, Don Julian, began collecting dolls to appease a little girl’s spirit who apparently drowned in the area. He was found drowned himself, 50 years later, in the very spot where the body was supposed to be found.

Well, you don’t have to travel all the way to Mexico to experience it, because Sunway Lagoon is bringing the island right to our doorstep, along with its residents.

If dolls aren’t your thing, then maybe a nice quiet seance and Ouija board game with the folks over at the abandoned attic of Mr E J Bond Esquire’s home.

Walk the tightrope between life and death at Day of the Dead in 3D, as you make your way through the darkness, illuminated by the occasional eerie glow from masked souls. Be careful though – you never know when they might want some company in the realm of the dead.

Fast forward to the year 2147, to a world of Dystopia: overrun with squalor, human misery, oppression, disease and overcrowding. The hospital plays host to crazy doctors performing grisly human experiments, while monstrosities and ghosts of the past haunt its hallways.

They even got Silent Hill to loan them some nurses.

Lol kidding.

If you’re up to some badassery, explore the iconic Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ and kick some ghost ass. Not literally of course. Touch not the ‘ghosts’ and they won’t touch you. Other infamous ghost locations include the Aldridge Mansion and Seward Street Subway, recreated to a tee.

Some local flavour is in order, and they have the Pontianak vs Pocong, a bloody affair of a lover returning as a Pontianak (vampire) and an unfaithful husband as a Pocong (a Malay version of a zombie) – seeking what is rightfully theirs in a classic battle of evil vs evil (this was the movie they should have made instead of Sadako vs Kayako!)

Fangirl to your favourite horror movie characters of all time (just don’t ask for an autograph) at Horrorwood Studios, where you’ll meet iconic greats like Freddy from a Nightmare on Elm Street, and Michael Myers from Halloween. They’ll even walk you down the red carpet, complete with large Oscar statues, velvet rope barriers and lights over at the Horrorwood Boulevard! 

And of course, it wouldn’t be a screamfest/fear festival without the perennial favourite – zombies. Survive the Zombie Apocalypse maze where the undead are always on the ready to tear you apart and drag you down.

Aside from the above mentioned places, there will be a total of 8 Haunted Houses5 Scare Zones11 Thrill Rides and 4 Show Stages, including attractions such as the Forest of Fear and Judgment Lane (modeled after the demolished Pudu Jail). Join the parade at March of the Undead, where characters walk about in haunting yet beautiful makeup and costumes, decorated with Mexican paper flags and large puppet processions.

Nights of Fright 5, presented by Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, runs from Fridays til Sundays until Oct 31. Doors open at 730PM til late and entrance is strictly for those aged 12 years old and above. Tickets are priced at RM64 per pax.

For more details, visit: NOF5. 

Dare you?

Read last year’s experience here: Nights of Fright 4