In Cantonese Taoism, when one passed on, the dead souls of the deceased will be escorted by the “law enforcer, bull head and horse face” (牛头马面) to face judgement from the ten kings of the netherworld. “Breaking the Hell’s Gate”, to lead the dead souls of the deceased to leave the netherworld and enter into reincarnation is one of the prayer rituals in Cantonese Taoism.

One would think that “Breaking the Hell’s Gate” ritual is to break open the door of hell and let the deceased enter. In fact, this is not correct. In Cantonese Taoism, it is actually to break the door of hell to save the deceased and lead the dead souls out of the netherworld and enter into reincarnation.

Before the start of the ritual, Taoist Priest will set up the “Gates of Hell”. The setup consists of placing a small pot of boiling oil (represent the hell where the dead soul is kept) at the center of tiles (represent the gates), eggs (represent the hell soldiers), candles and joss stick.

During the ritual, the leading Taoist priests, holding the deceased paper tablet, will lead the team of Priest to circle around the “Gates of Hell” in a fish-like steps.

The leading Priest will break the gates with his sword and spit water into the pot of boiling oil and jump over the burst of fire. The spitting of water into the boiling oil created a burst of fire effect, this represent the dead soul of the deceased is brought out from the netherworld.

The Cantonese Taoism version of ‘Breaking the Hell” in Singapore has known to be existed for more than 70 years and is still the main requested prayers ritual practice till today.