It was sunny morning and a truly pleasant visit to the Thean Hou Temple a week ago. The atmosphere was different from previous evening visits to attend events. That morning, there was a constant flow of tourists from the Middle East and Italy and a young bride was having her special moments being photographed.
Judging from the eager chatter and the numerous clicking of the cameras, the visitors were enjoying the reverent ambience of Thean Hou Temple. I spoke to the security guard, G, who reaffirmed that it is a favourite destination among local and tourists. On prayer days, he says he has no time to sit !! So, today, was a relaxing change.
The Thean Hou Temple welcomes one with its imposing red and brilliant architecture. Sprawled in 1.67 acres of land, it is amongst the largest Chinese temples in South East Asia. It was built during 1981 -1987 by the Hainanese community,a sub group of the Chinese community. Since then, Thean Hou Temple has attracted many devotees and visitors. Goddess Thean Hou is the patron of the Hainanese and the presiding deity in the holy shrine .
The Grand Temple has elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Facing the Temple, on the grounds, is a big urn. The main entrance of the Temple boasts of a multiarched doorway with red pillars. Walk up the steps , there is an altar with a smaller urn . On the altar are lotus candles and offerings for the Gods.
Before entering the temple, everyone leaves their shoes on the steps to enter the temple proper. Inside, I could feel an air of reverence. In the bustle of the day, there's always time for some solitude and pray. I felt the same too with the Thean Hou ( Goddess of Heaven ), Guan Yin ( Goddess of Mercy) and Shui Wei Sheng ( Goddess of the Waterfront) looking over us.
It was a great time for shutterbugs . The dome above is finely crafted with 96 gold- plated Goddesses placed all round. The carved dragons on the altar are gold plated. The rich Chinese architectural ceiling , eaves , cornices , columns and murals kept those who came with cameras busy indeed! A staff was seen carefully dusting the altars and keeping them clean for the Gods.
Several visitors wanted to find out their luck with the 'fortune sticks'. I did too. With a prayer in your heart, just pick all the sticks and drop them back into the holder. Then pick one . My stick says No. 22 and I looked round the revolving 'closet' for no. 22. I pulled out the drawer and took out a pink piece of paper. It says:
'Great Minds Mature Late - The famed Chinese sage Chiang had to wait until after the age of 80 before he was appointed to high post in the emperor's court. You , too, have to exercise great patience for the opportunity to come by, if you aim to reach great height .' Best of all, it says, 'Matrimony : Successful.' That REALLY made my day!
I visited the Tortoise pond and there I found D, the gardener, taking a rest. He told me about the herb garden and the garden grounds he has been looking after for the past 15 years or so.
The security guard kept a watchful eye on the visitors as they placed their shoes respectfully on the steps before entering the temple proper. As with all visitors, he kindly offered some books and dvds for me to take home . I gladly helped myself to some for greater understanding of Buddhism.
For so many reasons, my visit to the Thean Hou Temple was a blessed day. I found the place serene and I got the chance to offer some prayers for peace in our troubled world and the people dear to me. And what a treat, to be under the roof of a building of great architectural significance. Also, in the grounds, I 'bumped' into Mahsa and her family , from Iran.
It all started when I greeted,' Hi, where are you from? and 'Hope you're enjoying Kl.' Mahsa's mother then chipped in to say that she wanted to correspond with me - just like that !! But how as she does not write English? The tour bus was waiting ; quickly Mahsa jotted down her email address and that she would be in touch . By then, her father and cousin had gathered and she introduced them to me. Someone took a quick shot of us as Mahsa hugged me. I really couldn't believe that my day at Thean Hou Temple would end on such a high note.
And then there was Andy, from Yorkshire, UK who volunteered to take a picture of me beside the tiger, one of the animals of the Chinese astrological calendar . Soon, he was joined by his mother and sister. They had spent a whole 10 days in Kuala Lumpur to attend their relative's wedding to a Malaysian at the Sri Kandaswamy temple , Jalan Scott, Brickfields. They just heaped praises for our 'lovely country but hey, it's hot!'
Persatuan Hainan Selangor & WP
65 Persiaran Endah, Off Jalan Syed Putra
50460 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: + 6 03 2274 7088