Friday, November 23, 2007
Tua Pek Kong, Miri
The history of Tua Pek Kong Temple, Miri is almost a century. It is one of the well known tourist attraction in Northern Sarawak besides being a place of worship & devotion for local devotees.
It was said that the temple was constructed due partly to an epidemic in 1913 in Miri town. In 1913, the Chinese population of Miri is about just two thousands, mostly settled down around the current wet market areas, with just 4 rows of wooden shoplots.
The Miri oil boom, coupled with population explosion, and unmatched infrastructure such as proper drainage & sewage system had partly caused an outbreak of mysterious disease to the locals, especially Chinese who were residing in the inner-town.
As in the old days, many believed that it was caused by harmful spirits or the like. A Buddhist monk was then invited from Kuching, and the Tua Pek Kong Temple was thus recommended; the rest was history.
Many locals, especially the Chinese, believed that the epidemic in 1913 subsided partly due to the Tua Pek Kong. For the current generation, the temple is a place for devotion & worship especially every 1st & 15th days of the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year, and many other special sacred occasions.
During the 2nd World War, Miri was one of the focuses of the Japanese due to its petroleum industry; many of the shoplots & buildings around the temple were devastated, the temple somehow survived the bombing. It was not known partly due to Tua Pek Kong spiritual power or partly the Japanese, being oriented to some Taoist teachings, respected sacred places & thus avoided those.
The current Temple was rebuilt in 1970s, and was declared a historical building under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993.
The 12 Nov 2007 fire happened on the 1st day of the Lunar 10th month, a worship peak day, partly was believed due to the extensive heat from joss sticks & candles, which caused short circuit to the electrical wiring.
Like many of the local temples, the Miri Tua Pek Kong will be back as usual or even more glamorous very soon, as can be seen from the dedication & concern of the local devotees, community leaders, businessmen etc.