Taoists celebrate the nine sons of the Dou Mu, Goddess of the North Star. From the Malaysian Star Online Tuesday October 27, 2009 Thousands pay homage to Nine Emperor Gods By ANDREA FILMER GEORGE TOWN: After nine days on earth, the Nine Emperor Gods were ushered back to the waterways in a grand ceremonial send-off to heaven. Thousands of Taoist devotees flocked to temples in Penang last night to pay homage to the deities at the end of the annual nine-day vegetarian festival. The festival, which began on Oct 18 or the first day of the ninth lunar month, is held to honour the nine sons of Dou Mu, the Goddess of the North Star. In this old historic city, several of the normally quiet streets were brought to life by the clashing of cymbals and lively chatter. Residents in the inner city were seen coming out of their pre-war shophouses or watching processions from the windows of their upper floors. At the Tow Boh Keong Kew Ong Tai Tay temple on Macallum Street, devotees dressed in white ushered majestic floats and sedan chairs upon which the deities “rested’” onto the streets. Mediums with long whips fell into trances and had their cheeks pierced with 5m-long metal skewers before leading devotees to the Weld Quay seafront. At the waterways (believed to be the place where deities arrive and depart) on both Weld Quay and Gurney Drive, devotees from temples all over the island gathered to send off the nine “ren huang” or human sovereigns in boat-shaped floats. When brought out far enough, the floats were set ablaze to symbolise the departing of the deities to heaven. More information on the Goddess Dou Mu: **Dou-mu (at Encyclopedia Mythica) by Micha F. Lindemans The Chinese goddess who supervises the register in which the life and death of each person is recorded. She is venerated by those who wish a long life and personal compassion. Her name means "Mother of the Great Wagon". Dou-mu is portrayed sitting on a lotus throne and has four heads, with three eyes in each, and eight arms -- four on each side of her body. In Taoist temples a hall is often dedicated to her. She is also venerated by Chinese Buddhists.**Dou Mu (also Tou Mu and sometimes Tau Mu, depending upon country and pronunciation) is known by many different names, all centered on the constellation that we in the West call "The Big Dipper" (Ursa Major). She is the mother of the Seven Stars in that constellation. **In some representations, Dou Mu has nine pairs of arms [?] -- one for each of her children and the remainder for Violet Tenuity and Celestial August, two important stars in the central northern sky. (See star chart representation above and cf. to the Chinese water compass). The Dipper Mother sits on a lotus throne with two of her many hands clasped in prayer. [One PAIR for each of her seven children plus the two other "important stars."] More information can be found in posts done at the China History Forum on the topic "Dipper Mother."