From big-headed deities to cartoon characters: Vibrant Hiang Tiang Siang Ti Temple procession captivates thousands

The Hiang Tiang Siang Ti Temple procession on Jan 14, 2024 featured a diverse cast of characters.

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, Jan 15: The Hiang Tiang Siang Ti (Deity of the North) Temple’s yearly procession, organised by the Kuching Teochew Association, unfolded as a vibrant and splendid celebration last night (Jan 14), warmly embraced by thousands of devoted worshippers.

Each year, on the fourth day of the 12th month in the Chinese Lunar calendar, a grand procession takes place to honour the birth of the temple’s deity, Xuan Tian Shang Di. According to tradition, the procession is believed to protect Kuching City from disasters and bring about peace and prosperity.

This year, a total of 170 teams participated in the procession, which included temple bodies, Buddhist organisations, associations, and lion and dragon dance troupes.

People were spotted gathering at the temple as early as 5pm, with worshippers, participants, and spectators eagerly anticipating the ceremonial event. The temple management then handed out flags to each troupe as the procession kicked off.

The procession dazzled with the skillful performances of lion and dragon troupes, accompanied by the rhythmic beats of gongs and drums. In the midst of the festive atmosphere, talented singers added an extra layer of charm to the joyous occasion as they graced beautifully decorated floats.

The event was made even more lively with the presence of various big-headed dolls representing Chinese deity ‘Cai Shen Ye’ (God of Wealth) and saluting frog mascots popular in China, as well as beloved animation characters like Mickey and Minnie, Pikachu, and Lotso.

Roaring with energy and grace, lion and dragon troupes add a dynamic flair to the temple procession.
One of the beautifully decorated floats participating in the temple procession.
Chinese big-headed dolls, ‘Cai Shen Ye,’ saluting frogs, and beloved animation characters create a delightful spectacle at the temple’s procession.

The procession route was quite the spectacle, with a vibrant mix of locals, visitors, and foreigners who had gathered to experience the annual cultural heritage event. Several spectators were spotted snapping away with their DSLR cameras, eagerly capturing the lively procession.

The temple’s Deity, which had been carefully placed on a Chinese sedan chair before the event began, was carried by dedicated worshippers the whole procession route.

On the auspicious fourth day of the 12th lunar month, the Hiang Tiang Siang Ti Temple comes alive with a spectacular procession honouring the deity, Xuan Tian Shang Di.

According to the Kuching Teochew Association’s website, the Hiang Tiang Siang Ti Temple was a very simple structure when it was first built over one-and-a-half centuries ago by Teochew immigrants from China.

The temple was originally located on Soon Hong Street (now the Main Bazaar). It was rebuilt at its current location in 1863. It was destroyed by fire in 1884 and then rebuilt in 1889. The temple had also undergone major renovation in 1968.

Also present at the procession were Deputy Premier of Sarawak Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian, who was the guest-of-honour; Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen; Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii; and Kuching Teochew Association president Chiew Boon Seng. — DayakDaily