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Malaysian man dies in bizarre ‘human steaming’ stunt

Lim Ba, a Taoist medium, suffered a heart attack and burns after attempting to perform the “human steaming” ritual during a Taoist festival at a Chinese temple.

world Updated: Oct 25, 2017 16:37 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Kuala Lumpur
File photo of a procession on the final day of the nine-day Taoist Nine Emperor Gods festival in October 2016.(Reuters)

A Malaysian Taoist medium has died while performing a “human steaming” stunt which involved him sitting on top of a bubbling wok covered by a giant metal lid, police said on Wednesday.

Lim Ba, 68, suffered a heart attack and burns after attempting to perform the elaborate ritual during a Taoist festival at a Chinese temple late on Monday.

Devotees witnessing the event, which involved Lim sitting on a wooden platform balanced on top of the bubbling wok, heard banging noises emanating from the metal lid after about half an hour.

Witnesses at the event, including Lim’s son, reportedly saw the lid moving and then found the victim unconscious when they removed the lid.

Local police chief Mohammed Ismail Ibrahim told AFP that the ritual Lim performed on Monday was not his first, but turned out to be his last.

“He did this ceremony many times where he got into the wok to show that he was immune (to the heat),” he said.

“He had a heart attack and he collapsed. He was knocking (on the lid), and the water from the wok burned him,” he added.

Lim was pronounced dead at the scene in the Kuala Sanglang temple in northern Kedah state.

He had reportedly been performing the stunt for 10 years and food such as sweet corn and buns would usually be steamed alongside him.

Monday’s performance was part of the Taoist “Nine Emperor Gods Festival”, although his family had objected to Lim carrying it out as he had undergone heart surgery last year.

“My father went through a heart operation last year. I didn’t think this ceremony would be his last,” Lim’s son Lim Kang Huai told Bernama.

It is not unusual for acts depicting immense physical strength and endurance to be performed at festivals in multi-ethnic Malaysia, such as walking over glass shards.

Ethnic Chinese make up a quarter of Malaysia’s 31 million inhabitants, with the majority of them following Taoism - a philosophical and religious belief system rooted in Chinese customs - or Buddhism.

About 60% of Malaysia’s population is Muslim.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 16:29 IST