A “human steam” stunt in Kuala Sanglang went horribly wrong on Monday night when medium Lim Ba died after being placed inside a man-sized wok.
The 68-year-old had been inside for 30 minutes with a fire burning underneath him before his followers began hearing desperate knocks coming from inside. The steaming started at 10:00pm.
Lim’s son, Kang Huai, told The Star that the irregularity of the knocks indicated that something was awry, and they lifted the lid to find the mystic unconscious.
The incident occurred at a Nine Emperor God prayer session in honor of the Taoist celebration at a local Chinese temple.
Police ruled the cause of death was a heart attack, adding that Lim had sustained serious second-degree burns.
Kang Huai told reporters that his father had undergone a heart bypass surgery last year, and was also being treated for high blood pressure.
He added that along with his father, rice, sweet corn and vegetarian buns were being steamed as well.
Honestly speaking, in an already pretty wild and tragic story, the fact that there was food inside the wok as well is maybe the most mind-blowing.
Human-steaming was something that Lim had been performing over the last 10 years, despite on-going objections from his family. He had successfully performed it just recently at a Nine Emperor Gods celebration in nearby Perak.
His record inside the wok was 75-minutes, which is longer than most chicken-rice recipes.
Federation of Taoist Associations of Malaysia president Tan Hoe Chioew clarified that this type of ritual was divergent from mainstream Taoist rites, and was more of a fa shu (magic) performance, done to attract believers. It is not advisable to perform.
While this may be true, the Nine Emperor Gods Festival rituals celebrated in Thailand also include similar feats of visceral human endurance. Devotees mutilate their bodies, and stand near firecrackers while they’re lit, while in a trance-like state.
Our condolences to Lim’s family.