Thursday, December 6, 2007

Leang Shen Temple, Spaoh

Leang Shen Temple, literally in Chinese is ‘Two Sages Old Temple’. There is no record on where the ‘two sages’ were from as there are a total 7 main host deities in the temple; when the temple was first initiated, there was only Ma Zhu, the Taoist Goddess of the Sea worshipped in the temple.

Spaoh is a small town of Betong division, about half an hour off the Trans Borneo Highway; it is about 3 to 3 ½ hour drive from Kuching City. The temple is situated next to the Paku River, and nearby a friendly Malay fishing village.

The origin of the temple was said to be from a businessman who used to travel along Paku River & nearby tributaries to do businesses. He brought along the deity Ma Zhu & censer in his boat for spiritual support & protection.

As the population of Spaoh grew, he settled down in Spaoh in about 1920 (& became the first Kapitan or village head), and naturally also built a simple temple for Ma Zhu in this small town. As time went by, additional deities were added to the ‘Ma Zhu’ temple as to devotees’ demand.

In the early 1950s (during the Korean War), the demand of local produce (such as pepper) were good; local farmers (many of them Chinese) were having good days. The first rebuilding of the temple was thus initiated partly for thanks giving & there was a week long celebration & religious procession.

The recent upgrade of the temple was done in 2000. Like the previous rebuilding, there was week long celebration & procession; many devotees & visitors from outskirts, other towns came for the occasion.

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