Photo: By William Tung from USA - Wondercon 2016 - Monkey King Cosplay, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Sun Go Kong’s birthday is celebrated on every 15th of the 8th month of Lunar Calendar and it always takes place in a remote area of Gedong village on Bangka Island.

Usually, the celebration is prepared in the afternoon and will proceed at seven o'clock in the evening. There will be a lot of people standing around the location before the ritual starts.

It is indeed a mystical traditional show that belongs to the Chinese Indonesians, where red colored papers dominate the decoration of the altar. The location is full of smoke because the people never stop burning their joss sticks. This Chinese traditional culture has been known for centuries and it has been celebrated since the Chinese descendants lived there.

The ritual is held every year to celebrate the birthday of Sun Go Kong (the monkey king) that symbolizes the Divine power, energy and health. Besides, it is also considered powerful enough to strike all the negative influences of the evils. The Sun Go Kong holy spirit is invited to stay inside the shaman’s body who leads the ritual.

A young man sitting in front of the altar begins to raise his arms and puts both his hands on his chest. He closes his eyes and starts chanting the mantras.

After a few seconds, he stands quietly and opens his eyes. It seems as if his both hands were seized with cramp, then slowly turn into relaxation and begin to demonstrate a series of Kungfu movements.

He walks step by step to the area and plays the Kungfu strokes with his hands and legs resembling the movements of a monkey. He also demonstrates the defense technique with a wooden stick as if he were a monk from Shaolin Temple.

Having finished demonstrating his skills, the young man walks to the altar and bows to show respect to the gods and goddesses.

The young man blesses all the fruits in the plates before passing them around. The people believe that they will obtain good health and free from negative influences of evil spirits after eating the fruits.

This ritual always wins the great enthusiasm and it has never been promoted. The people know that Sun Go Kong’s birthday is routinely celebrated every year.

According to the classic tale of Journey to the West, Sun Go Kong was a trouble maker. He stole the golden elixir at heaven palace and fought with the emperor’s guards. He was finally caught as he couldn’t escape from Buddha’s palm.

Sun Go Kong was thrown to the earth and should face a five hundred years imprisonment under the Five Finger Mountain.

One day, a holy monk passed there and freed Sun Go Kong from the imprisonment and accepted him as his first disciple.

Sun Go Kong was deeply touched by the holy monk’s compassion and kindness. He protected his master from the disturbances of evil supernatural beings.

He was very happy to travel on a long journey together with his master. He had two juniors, one was Piggy and the other was Sandy.

A lot of Satan’s disciples had been dreaming to catch the holy monk because they believed that the holy monk’s flesh had the power of rejuvenation. It would help them improve their supernatural power and obtained longevity after eating the holy monk’s flesh.

Sun Go Kong, Sandy and Piggy fought with all their might to save their master from danger. They succeeded in accompanying the holy monk to the Western Paradise for Buddhist Sutras.

As they had done a lot of good deeds, the king of heaven rewarded them the immortal life and let them live in heaven.

I read and reread Journey to the West when I was a little boy. It was very exiting as the story book had a lot of interesting pictures.


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