Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Butcher Who Turned God

From Shang Ti Temple, Carpenter Street

Hiang Thian Siang Ti or Xuan Tian Shang Ti is the host deity of Shang Ti Temple, Kuching and many other similar temples in Sarawak or Malaysia.

Accordingly, the Sagely One was born in 581 A.D. in China.

Before he got enlightened, he worked as a butcher for many years. As he turned old, he regretted much for the killings he had done as a butcher and decided to go to Wudan San (Mt Wudan in China) to practice the Taoist ways.

As such, he threw his butcher knife to the river; later, he took back the butcher knife from the river fearing that the tool might hurt the river creatures. He later cut his own stomach & threw his organs to the river in order to purify himself for the sins he had done as a butcher.

At that moment, holy light descended from the sky & escorted his soul to Wudan San for the Way.

This is the legendary story of the Sagely One who was later became God from an ordinary butcher.

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lian Hua San - San Ching Pantheon, Miri

Extracts from Commemorative Plaque of Lian Hua San San Chin Pantheon, Miri...

"Historical brief of ‘Miri Lian Hua San San Ching Taoism Association’

Tao means literally the ‘path’ and is a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human being. Taoism is a philosophy and San Ching is the phenomenal belief of Taoism.

‘Miri Lian Hua San San Ching Tian’ is originated from ‘Miri San Ching Yuk Fang Tian’ that was formed since 1972. After the unfortunate demise of our first Chairman of the Association – Mr Chiew Choon Lim in the late 1998, a new committee was formed in 1999 under the guidance of Mr Hii Siew Ong to complete the visionary Pantheon of ‘San Ching’.

The Pantheon of ‘Miri San Ching’ is located on a land sized 1.475 acres, with a total built-up area of approximately 2000 sq meters. The development plan was designed and constructed in accordance to approved plan by Miri Municipal Council and Land & Survey Department, as well as the Fire Department of BOMBA Malaysia.

At a total development cost of approximately RM10 Millions, it has taken about three (3) years to complete this Pantheon which has now been acknowledged as the biggest Taoist Temple in South East Asia. This phenomenal temple with ancient architectural design blended with all cultural backdrops and landscaping proves itself an outstanding features with righteousness. It also forms as another tourism icon of Miri Division.

The successful development of this Pantheon is the result of the hard work and commitment of all committee and members of the ‘San Ching Association’, generous support from the Malaysia Government and the public despite the fact that it was implemented during the world economic recession period. With this, we would like to express our highest gratitude and thankfulness to all that has supported us to achieve our vision.

Noted herein also, we must offer our respect and tribute to the effort and contribution of all past Committee and Members with the late Chairman Mr Chiew Choon Lim in the forefront, towards the success and achievement of this superlative home of Miri San Ching Tian (Pantheon).


The Committee and Members
Miri Lian Hua San San Ching Taoism Association
Date 28 March 2002"

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tze Yin Khor, Lubok Antu – The Japanese Occupation 1941

The Japanese Occupation started in 1941 in Sarawak and ended in 1945. Tze Yin Khor in Lubok Antu was partly founded due to the war.

Lubok Antu is a small town of the Sri Aman division, about 4 hours from Kuching by road; from the Trans Borneo highway junction alone, it take more than 30 minutes to reach this small border town, one of the very few townships in Sarawak sits next to Kalimantan of Indonesia.

In 1941, after Kuching was controlled by the Japanese force, small inland towns were like a domino, one by one fallen to the Japanese as their soldiers moved along the Batang Lupar to the interior.

Lubok Antu was no exception. As the Japanese landed in Engkilili which was the nearest town to Lubok Antu, and about a day journey by river, the soldiers faced fierce resistance from the Iban warriors at the Batang Lupar upstream.

As the Ibans slowly lost ground to modern gun power, anxiety permeated the Lubok Antu township residents where many of them were Chinese. The Chinese feared that the Japanese might take revenge when they landed in Lubok Antu, as happened in many parts of Asia earlier when resistance was encountered.

It was at this moment that the last resort as for many people was to pray for God’s help. The residents were led by few seniors to pray for peace & a simple hut was thus put up for the Gods; this was in fact the earlier Tze Yin Khor of Lubok Antu. The main host housed in this small hut was just a few simple Chinese wordings ‘Group of Gods’.

Gods might have moved, Lubok Antu did not face a massacre, and the war ended quite peacefully in 1945. Even during the 1961 Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, this blessed town did not face much disaster.

After the war, the simple temple was thus reconstructed, and the Host Deities were formally transmitted from Tze Yin Khor of Sri Aman to Lubok Antu to continue the kind of protection, worship & devotion.

Today, Lubok Antu is associated with the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort & the Batang Ai Hydro-Electric Power Plant. The Japanese Occupation in 1941 looks vague to many local Chinese residents.

Batang Ai Hydro-Electric Complex

Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort

The new lake created from the Hydro-Electric Dam Project

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tze Yin Khor, Sri Aman – The History & The Live Crab Feng Shui

Tze Yin Khor is located in Sri Aman, the capital of 2nd Division of Sarawak; it is about 200 km by road from Kuching. There is only one traditional Chinese temple in this small town.

Batang Lupar next to Tze Yin Khor

The temple is located at the river bank of Batang Lupar, famous for the Tidal Wave called Benak locally. This is one of the few temples in Sarawak which is more than a century. The present glamorous architecture was completed in 1993.

Around the year 1849 when James Brooke established its forces in the Skrang region near Sri Aman, the Chinese, particularly the Teoh Chew pioneers, started to do business in the area. As the Brooke Administration reinforced its presence in Batang Lupar with a fort, more Chinese especially Teoh Chew settled down in Sri Aman or around the Batang Lupar area.

Before the turn of 20th Century, a small temple was thus built to cater for the growing Chinese population; this was the earlier Tze Yin Khor, with Tze Pei Goddess as the host deity.

The present location was relocated in 1899. It is believed by most adherents that the present location is seated on a good Feng Shui, a Live Crab Feng Shui. Many believe that because of the Live Crab Feng Shui & the blessings from Tze Pei Goddess, Tze Yin Khor had escaped many major disasters in Sri Aman.

In 1928, a major fire broke out in Sri Aman, devastated about 60 wooden shophouses. Tze Yin Khor was next to these shophouses; most parts of the temple, including the main chamber, was unharmed. In 1961, a cyclonic storm swept through Sri Aman, the half an hour windstorm demolished most of the buildings in Sri Aman including Tze Yin Khor; however, Tze Pei Goddess and the two Protectors remained seated in the main chamber unmoved. Even during the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s, Sri Aman faced few tragedies.

And because it was seated on a Live Crab Feng Shui, before the 1993 major renovation, major parts of the temple was painted green, instead of using red traditionally for most Chinese temples, to avoid ‘cooking’ the Live Crab. With the major renovation in 1993, the practice is still maintained; all roofing of Tze Yin Khor is still kept green until now.

Green Roof Burner

Green Roof Temple

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ching San Yen – Her Feng Shui & the City of Kuching

Ching San Yen, Muara Tebas

About two centuries ago, Ching San Yen area was already a prosperous port for Kuching. It served as one of the two major ports of entry to Kuching or Sarawak at large at that time (the other one is the Santubong river mouth), for vessels from the South China Sea.

The Brooke Administration at that time also had custom offices or the like established for purposes of taxation & other clearance.

The temple was already established at that time for the Chinese immigrants. It also served as a first stop for the newly arriving Chinese immigrants to pay respect and to thank for the long safe journey, before moving on to the hinterland or other parts of Sarawak.

Many adherents believe that Ching San Yen was built on a good Feng Shui; the prosperity of Kuching is associated with that since then.

Accordingly, Ching San Yen is seated on a Golden Turtle in the North (the Muara Tebas hill), and facing a flowing river in front on the South. The location might have been chosen carefully by a Feng Shui master as believed, and thus continues to bring prosperity to the City of Kuching nearby!

Today, the Sarawak River mouth at Ching San Yen is the only river entry for vessels to Kuching after the completion of the Sungai Sarawak Regulation Scheme in 1997, which includes a causeway across the Santubong passage. In the past, heavy floods caused economic and social problems, devastated parts of residential and business areas such as the 1963 and 1982 major incidents. The SSRS is believed to minimize floods and has brought significant socioeconomic impact on Kuching.

Will those man-made changes affect good Feng Shui or chi around the areas? The prosperity of Kuching will of course largely depend on its people initiatives besides good Feng Shui!

Ching San Yen & the South China Sea.

Part of the Sungai Sarawak Regulation Scheme.

An Express Boat Entering The Sarawak River

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tua Pek Kong - When is thy birthday?

There are many Tua Pek Kong temples in Sarawak; the most famous one is Tua Pek Kong Temple in Kuching. The Tua Pek Kong temple in Limbang is called Hock Teck Tsyr, and in Serian it is called Tai Pak Kung.

The generic name Tua Pek Kong temple here refers to temples with Lord Tua Pek Kong as the Host Deity.

Many Tua Pek Kong temples in Sarawak were found at least fifty years ago. Many dialects differences, geographical barrier, communication hindrance and the like in the past, had given rise to the different names of the temples, with the same host deity.

There is no surprise that Lord Tua Pek Kong also has 'many' birthdays, with more or less the same reasons.

Eng Ann Teng, Sibu.

The Eng Ann Teng in Sibu celebrates the birthday on 29th day of 3rd month of the lunar calendar. Others state differently, such as a notice of a Shrine near Tian Hou Temple in Carpenter Street, Kuching, indicates 1st day of 2nd month as the birthday.

Carpenter Street, Kuching.

As such, the committee of Eng Ang Teng, Sibu recently has suggested for a standardisation of the birthday on 29th day of 3rd month of the lunar year.

The Eng Ang Teng Committee has made various plans & dialogs with other similar temples in Sarawak, to proclaim the 29th day of 3rd month to be the birthday of Lord Tua Pek Kong. Suggestion also has been made by the committee to the State Tourism Board to declare the day as a official event of Sarawak.

The devotees and other cultural supporters in Sarawak will soon celebrate the birthday of Lord Tua Pek Kong, all on the same day, 29th day of 3rd month of the lunar calendar; the earliest one will be the coming 4th of May 2008.

Happy birthday to you my Lord!

Some of the Tua Pek Kong Temples in Sarawak.

Eng Ann Teng Tua Pek Kong, Sibu

Hock Teck Su, Kuching.

Tua Pek Kong, Buntal

Tua Pek Kong, Marudi

Hock Teck Tsyr, Tondong, Bau

Tua Pek Kong, Engkilili

Tua Pek Kong, Miri

Hock Teck Tsyr, Limbang

Hock Teck Temple, 10th Mile

Places of Worship & Devotion In Sarawak

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shang Ti Temple, Carpenter Street, Kuching

Extracts from Commemorative Plaque of Shang Ti Temple (The Hiang Thian Siang Ti Temple), Carpenter Street, Kuching...

" The Hiang Thian Siang Ti (Deity of the North) Temple was a very simple building when it was first built more than one and a half centuries ago by the Teochew immigrants from China. The Temple was originally located at the previous Soon Hoon Street (now known as the Main Bazaar). It was re-built at the present location in 1863. It was razed by fire in 1884 and again re-built in 1889.

In 1968 a major renovation of the temple was carried out and the statues of the Deities were completely re-furnished with gold foils. A pompous celebration took place on the 4th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar to commemorate this occasion. There were merry-making and a grand procession was held to add to the festivities. This celebration has become an annual event attracting devotees from far and near to congregate at the Temple.

The yearly celebration will see Kuching city becoming alive with a burst of activities which include stage shows and a colorful procession as the highlight. Thousands of people line the streets to witness this celebration which will last till late in the night. The crowds will be rewarded with a skillful display of talents by the lion and dragon dance troupes amidst the thunderous beatings of the gongs and drums while pretty maidens, singers and dancers in colorful costumes performing on beautifully decorated floats.

In the old days, an annual election was held to form the temple management committee which was called ‘Ngee Ann Kiun’ Committee. ‘Ngee Ann Kiun’ was the ancient name of the Teochew district in China. This committee was later renamed ‘Song Hong Kong Si’ which became a registered society when the Sarawak Government introduced the Registration of Societies Ordinance in the year 1914.

The ‘Song Hong Kong Si’ was renamed ‘Teo Kiaw Association’ in 1933. In order to comply with the standardization of the names of all Teochew Associations in Malaysia, the name was changed to ‘Kuching Toechew Association’ in 1938.

Nowadays the daily management of the temple is the responsibility of a committee whose members are elected by the Kuching Teochew Associations. The Kuching Teochew Association traces its origin to the Hiang Thian Siang Ti Temple.

Well known as a sacred place of worship for devotees and a historical monument, the majestic temple is a popular tourist attraction for both local and foreign visitors."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Kuching Wat Chao Kun Foo, Jalan Uplands

A new wat or temple is under construction at Jalan Uplands, Kuching Wat Chao Kun Foo.

The wat was launched on 22 Feb 2006 when the building plan for the present site was unveiled, and the ground breaking ceremony on the 12 Feb 2008, by the Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of Works (Datuk Yong Khoon Seng), was for the commencement of the wat’s construction.

The Wat was registered on 15 Dec 2004 under the name Kuching Wat Chao Kun Foo Buddhist Followers Association as a non-profit organization; it is to be built in memory of the late prominent local businessman in Sarawak, Datuk Amar Wee Hood Teck and the late Venerable Chao Kun Foo. As a place of worship & devotion, it is to promote the teachings of the Lord Buddha.

The temple, costs around RM2 millions, designed by local Akitek SKJ, built on a 40 points land at Jalan Uplands provided by the Wee family, is expected to be completed by early 2010.

The main shrine will house the statues of the Golden Buddha, the Kuan Yin and the Four-Faced Buddha.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Thian Chun Tien, Senadin

Thian Chun Tien or Thian Chun Chamber is one of the few orthodox Taoist temple in Sarawak. The newly completed temple is now situated in Senadin, Miri.

Thian Chun Tien was first started in 1975 by Lee who practiced Taoist divination & Chinese medication to help people, in a devotee’s house in Miri.

The small temple was relocated to Krokop, Miri in 1982 in order to cope with the growing number of dedicated devotees.

The year 1985 marked a new milestone when Thian Chun Tien was successfully registered with the Registrar of Society; a new temple was thus planned after that. The current location here in Senadin was thus later granted by local authority.

In 1990, the temple in Krokop was forced to relocate to Lee’s house in Pujut as the Senadin location was not ready yet. Affected buildings, included illegal squatters & Thian Chun Tien in Krokop areas, were to relocate in order to make way for the Miri Resort City Project.

The construction of the temple started in 2001, and completed in 2006, 31 years after the faith was first initiated by Lee.

Thian Chun Tien was officially opened by the Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister on 30 April 2006; to complement the occasion, various cultural related events were organized for the day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nam Hua Chern Teck Kung, Matang - Dragons Installation

A ceremony was held on the 28 Jan 08 at the site for the installation of dragon sculptures. These dragon sculptures were imported from China. A total of twelve dragon sculptures were installed on the day; there were a pair of Prince Dragons, a pair of Green Dragons & 4 pairs of Spiritual Dragons (or mini Grass Dragons).

The ceremony was attended by local leaders & committe members of the temple. Currently the temple is near 80% completion.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Places of worship, Betong area

Fung San Shu, Saratok is about a century old now. Permanent settlement first started in Saratok around 1888, It was said that a businessman from Kabong (about 50 km from Saratok) migrated here in the early 20th Century; and he brought along the deity worship here.

Like many of the histories of Chinese temples & small townships in Sarawak, fire incidents were not uncommon since most the earlier shoplots were not concrete structure & temples were normally found among these wooden shoplots.

The present temple is the third location, planned in the 80s and completed in 1993, ever since the original temple was found in the early 20th Century near the river bank.

In the 1920s and 1930s, there were about 20 wooden shoplots in Saratok, the late 1930s fire had destroyed most of them, though the temple was unharmed. Later on, 56 double storey wooden shoplots were built & the temple was shifted to a 2nd location in 1940s due partly to erosion near the river.

Saratok, around 1971 A.D.

In June 1970, major fire broke out again in Saratok, 28 of the 56 shoplots were destroyed. The current concrete shoplots were built in 1973 to replace most of the destroyed wooden structure. The temple was then again moved to the present site in 1993.

Every year, 22nd day of 2nd Month of lunar calendar, the temple will hold celebration of the host deity birthday; the 1993 celebration was grand as it marked the completion of the new temple on a new site. Devotees from surrounding areas, as far as Kuching, flocked to Saratok to join the occasion.

Present Saratok Wet Market, from the balcony of Fung San Shu.

Saratok is now a major town in Betong division, it is the 2nd largrest town in the Sri Aman & Betong divisions, though it was not chosen as the capital earlier when the area was declared a separate administrative division.

Saratok Buddhist Association, on a hilltop in Saratok.

Shang Ti Temple, Betong, about 50 km from Saratok.

Tian Yin Gong, Roban, about 20 km from Saratok.

Leang Shen Temple, Spaoh; between Betong & Saratok.

Fou Lung Temple, Pusa; about 15 km from the junction of Betong/Saratok highway.