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Powerd By : NorthPony
Kuan Yin Teng Temple (Goddess of Mercy Temple)
There are no translations available.


Kuan Yin Teng or Temple of the Goddess of Mercy, is one of the most important temples in Penang. It is located along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, formerly Pitt Street and is one of the oldest Chinese temples in George Town. Studying from history of the Goddess of Mercy Temple, you would be surprised to learn that at the time it was built, it was not dedicated to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, but rather to Ma Chor Po, the patron saint of seafarers.

Apparently, and understandably, the Ma Chor Po, as a goddess dedicated to rescuing seafarers from the perils at sea, was the original primary diety of the temple because the Chinese community, being newcomers in a strange land, needed divine protection for their tumultous journey through the South China Sea. A study of the altar tablets shows that the tablet representing the Ma Chor Po is larger than the one for the Kuan Yin. Also, according to historian Ong Seng Huat, the poems inscribed on the 60 fortune sticks in the temple are similar to those found in Ma Chor Po temples.

In all likelihood, as the local Chinese community evolved from one dependent on the sea to one which is urban, the virtues of the Goddess of Mercy - motherliness, compassionate, dedicated to saving mortals from tribulation - became more congruent to their needs. This transition from Ma Chor Po to Kuan Yin 1824, because two stelae erected by the Board of Directors of the temple indicated that the Goddess of Mercy was the main deity even before 1824.

As with all important Chinese buildings, the choice of site is all dependent on feng shui. The Kuan Yin Teng was sited on a gentle knoll, which is regarded as a dragon in feng shui, a geomantically strategic place to locate a temple. As in keeping with ceh-sua-kua-hai or viewing-the-sea-from-a-hillside-perch position, the temple was to command a view of the sea all the way to the hills of Province Wellesley. There are two visible wells at the Kuan Yin Teng, one at the courtyard for public use, and one within the temple, for the monks. Though now disused, they are significant from feng shui aspect, for they are regarded as the "eyes of the dragon" which in believe, there is a third well, right under the front altar, which act as the dragon's "third eye".

At the time of its construction, the sea reaches Beach Street, which as its name suggests, was a beach-front street. Between the beach and the temple is China Street, lined at that time with Chinese shop houses. The street acted as a funnel for all the goodness to flow in with the tides.

The Chinese community tried to purchase the piece of beach property in front of the temple. However the proprietor refused to sell the Beach Street plot, and instead the sea was reclaimed and a building was erected on it, effectively blocking the temple from direct view of the sea. The temple authorities could do nothing about this; they could only declare that house unlucky for interfering with the feng shui. When the British built the Malayan Railway Building in 1907, the Chinese community regarded this as another dirty trick of the British to destroy the political power of the Chinese in Penang. That's because the clocktower of the Malayan Railway Building is thought to confuse the "land dragon" of the Kuan Yin Teng, again diminishing the feng shui value of the temple.

The Kuan Yin Teng underwent a major renovation in the year 1824, when it was enlarged to provide more space for a plethora of new dieties. As a temple for the Cantonese and Hokkien communities, it tried to play a role as mediator to their many squabbles.

Despite its long and often tumultuous history, the Kuan Yin Teng continues to be one of the most popular temples among the Chinese taoist community of Penang, and throngs come to worship here, especially on Temple Days, which fall on the first and fifteenth of every lunar month, and on the Goddess of Mercy's feast days, which are on the 19th day of the 2nd, 6th and 9th month of the lunar calendar. These feast days mark the anniversaries of the Avalokitesvara's birthday, initiation, and attaining Nirvana. Commonly, there are puppet shows and Chinese operas are staged on these days in her honour.



Comments (2)
  • Anonymous
    wao... :grin
  • 乌龙茶
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