Sun Wukong Story
At this point, the Heavenly Emperor asked Buddha for help. The Buddha made a wager with the Monkey, betting him that he could not even jump out of the Buddha’s palm. If the Monkey King can do that, then he is allowed to take the Jade Emperor’s job, but if he lose then he would be banished to Earth for 500 years to learn some humility. Knowing that he could cover hundred thousands of miles in one leap he was so proudly confident and smugly agreed. The Monkey King then began to take a great leap and flew to the end of the world in seconds. Except for the five pillar, nothing else was visible, and the Monkey surmised that he had reached the ends of Heaven. He marked those pillars with a phrase “the great sage equal to heaven” in order to prove his trail (but in other versions, he urinated on the pillar he signed on). He leaped back afterward and landed in the Buddha’s palm but then he was shocked to find that the “pillars” he had found were in fact the five fingers of the Buddha’s hand. Whatever gongfu, skills and magic tricks Wukong tried to use in order to escape from the Buddha’s palm he still landed at the same place, the Buddha then turned his hand into a mountain and crushed Wukong underneath for 500 years, leaving only his hands and head exposed. The Buddha sealed him using paper talisman which “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra written on it.
Journey to the West
After 500 years, Sun Wukong was granted a chance to redeem himself by accmpanying Tripitaka (a holy man who wanted to make a journey to the West) as his guard and companion. A band of metal, a gift from Buddha to Xuanzang was put on the Monkey’s head in order to keep him under control. The metal headband can be tighten causing extreme pain to Wukong whenever Tripitaka is muttering a chant.
During their journey to the West, they were joined by “Sandy” (Sha Wujing) and “Pigsy” (Zhu Bajie). Xuanzang’s safety was constantly under threat from demons who believed that his flesh would bring longetivity once consumed. Sun Wukong is the main fighting power, the strongest of the group but he faced conflicts with his master many times due to his tendency to kill. The “Pigsy” is significantly weaker, he is also greedy, lazy and lustful, though he is a great help when fighting the demons in seas or rivers. Sun Wukong and Pigsy are constantly quarreling and the Monkey likes to play tricks on him. The weakest one is Sha Wu Jing, but he is patient and hardworking. He also does his best to help his elder brothers. The group encountered a series of 81 tribulations before acomplishing their mission and returning safely to China. The Monkey King was granted Buddhahood for his strength and service.
Monkey King Festival
The Sun Wukong or Monkey King festival is celebrated by the Chinese on the 16th day of the 8th lunar month (Chinese calender). As the Monkey King was renowned for his magical ability, in the old days during the Sun Wukong festival, a “possessed person” would climb a ladder which the steps are made of sharp knives and run on hot surface barefoot and the possessed person will not be hurt or injured. But today, they dont do that any more. Its back to the standard worshipping formality such as burning paper offerings and incense sticks. The Hindu deity Hanuman from the Ramayana is considered by some people to be an inspiration for Monkey King or Sun Wu kong.