Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Zhong Kui Caught By Ghosts (鬼捉钟馗)
It is a common Chinese practice across the globe to employ someone to disguise as a Taoist deity either to boost up the atmosphere of a festival or for blessing of a place.
For example, in Malaysia we can see actors disguised as god of fortune (财神爷) to give away red packets in front of a shopping complex.
However, this practice is more prevalent in Taiwan as not only the god of fortune, people would ask an actor to disguise himself as the ‘third prince’ (三太子). Or people would hire a group of actors and actress to disguise themselves as the ‘eight immortals’ (八仙). Whatever deities those actors and actresses disguised; there is a taboo amongst people who disguised to be a Taoist deity in whatever occasions. This is especially true for those ones who are asked to impersonate as ‘ghost buster’ deities. A very famous deity amongst the Taiwanese is the Zhong Kui (钟馗) who is well known of his ability to catch and punish ghosts. You may call Zhong Kui as the ancient Chinese ‘ghost buster’.
Before I forget, the said taboo is that you should not call the actor by his real name in fear of retaliation from the local spirits or whatever evil entities out there the ‘deity’ was supposed to get rid of symbolically. So, if the person is disguised as Zhong Kui, then he should just be called ‘Zhong Kui’ until this ‘Zhong Kui’ takes off his costume at the end of the day.
As I was told by a Taiwanese friend, some folks at his place like to employ actors especially those actors from Chinese opera groups to disguise as Zhong Kui to bless a place or house when they suspect the place to be haunted. The job is normally pretty simple, the actor who is to be the formidable Zhong Kui only needs to be empowered by a Taoist and then he would follow whatever the Taoist asks the Zhong Kui to do… it is normally dancing and using a sword to chop at all directions indicating that all ghosts of that area are already being killed by this Zhong Kui; hence whoever lives there can continue to live in peace so to speak.
Of course, no one would believe that such an act would bring any effect on whatever dwellers were there before and after the ritual. It is just a folk custom carried out to appease people’s unsettled minds… Or is it so?
A few years ago, an actor known as Ah Kow was employed to disguise himself as Zhong Kui to bless a newly opened shop. Since this shop was just located beside main road; many people gathered around to see the opening ceremony. After the master Taoist performed all the necessary ritual, the Zhong Kui followed the Taoist to walk around the shop while making gestures of grabbing ghosts and evil entities into a bag…
Just as when the ritual was almost over, Ah Kow’s wife who was happened to have passed by the shop, saw the Zhong Kui and she knew that was her hubby. So she called out:
“Hey Kow! Don’t forget to buy me some eggs before you return home!”
Ah Kow habitually turned his head and shouted: “Okay!”
The rest of the day went pretty smooth for Ah Kow and he knocked off at around 12 noon and remembered to purchase those eggs his wife wanted.
After the dinner, as Ah Kow had opened his main door to go out of his house, he suddenly shouted: “They want to get me…” And he fell onto the ground unconscious.
He was rushed to the local hospital but Ah Kow was pronounced dead on arrival…
Although the autopsy report said Ah Kow died of heart attack, but neighbours blamed the incident on his wife by calling his real name during inappropriate occasion.
Perhaps this is just a coincident, I would not want to make any conclusion at this juncture.