The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is a nine-day long Taoist celebration that has produced some pretty heavy scenes over the years. The latest WTF-inducing news coming out of the festival is the death of famous Taoist priest Lim Ba, who died of a heart attack while being steamed alive on top of a pile of buring coal in Malaysia on Monday night.
Yup, you read that right. The aptly-named “steaming man” ritual rises above even the festival’s other extremely questionable activities, such as tongue slashing or cheek piercing. It involves a brave individual lying or sitting down on top of a pot above some burning coals and then being covered by a large metal container.
The Star reports that Lim was attempting to break the world record for the ritual, aiming to spend more than 75 minutes inside the extremely hot, human-sized wok outside of a Chinese temple in Kuala Sanglang. An attempt that tragically did not go well: around the 30-minute mark, he began to desperately bang on the inside of the container, calling out for help.
His associates quickly removed the priest from the container, but already, it was too late. The 68-year-old man, who was considered a master of this particular ritual was already in severe shock and died not long after.
You can watch video of the shocking incident below:
Afterward, police said that the cause of death was a heart attack, also noting that Lim, unsurprisingly, suffered some severe second-degree burns.
More than a decade of practicing this ritual had built up a considerable strain on Lim’s heart. The priest even underwent coronary bypass surgery two years ago and was on medication for hypertension. According to The Star, his family was against him continuing to push his body through the ritual, which he viewed as a test of his faith and endurance.
According to the Federation of Taoist Associations of Malaysia, dangerous rituals like the “steaming man” are not part of mainstream Taoist rites and practices. However, they remain popular as fashu (theurgy or magic) with more extreme devotees.
Following Lim’s death, all further festivities at the temple were canceled. The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is a huge event for ethnic Chinese Taoists across Southeast Asia and never fails to produce some captivating images.
By Máté Mohos
[Images via The Star]
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