Malaysian man dies in Taoist 'human steaming' stunt

Taoist medium Lim Ba suffered a heart attack and burns after attempting to perform the "steaming man" ritual at the Kuala Sanglang temple in Kedah. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - 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, reports said Wednesday (Oct 25).

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 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.

Local police chief Mohd Ismail Ibrahim told state-run Bernama news agency that the crowd, including the victim's son, "saw the lid moving and as soon as it was opened, they found the victim unconscious".

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

Lim had been 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 per cent of Malaysia's population is Muslim.

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