In conjunction with Chinese New Year, devotees will converge in temples beginning tonight. Ewe Paik Leong visits some Taoist temples in Ipoh
PALOH KOO MIU, JALAN BIJIH TIMAH, IPOH
Dedicated to Tai Pak Kung, the God of Wealth, this temple was founded in 1872 as a wooden structure on the bank of the Kinta River. In 1894, Yau Tet Shin and Leong Fi, two prominent businessmen, built a new brick building in its present location. During its early years, the new temple provided free medical services and its Board of Governors arbitrated to settle minor business and personal disputes. However, all temple activities were discontinued during the Japanese Occupation (1942-45). In 2004, the temple was renovated, and today, its compound contains a fountain, stone sculptures and a bilingual stone plaque tracing its history.
HUAT TIAN KONG TEMPLE, LEBUH BERCHAM SELATAN, IPOH
Chinese New Year is the time for singles seeking a life partner to visit this temple. Why? The God of Love and Marriage Yue Lao is worshipped here. He is depicted as holding a bunch of red strings. According to traditional belief, once he ties two strings together, a man and a woman selected by him will meet and marry. The temple is tucked in a cliff in Gunung Tambun, with stalagmites and stalactites in its caverns. The principal deity worshipped is Fatt Chee Kung, and festivals are celebrated annually on the 27th day of the first month and the 23rd day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. A 18m dragon statue hanging in a crevice is popular for selfies and wefies.
LING SEN TONG, JALAN RAJA DR NAZRIN SHAH, IPOH
Ling Sen Tong literally means “Rock of Heavenly Fairy” and is the most colourful cave temple in Ipoh. The forecourt is packed with sculptures from Chinese mythology and the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The legend of the Monkey God and his Journey to the West is depicted here. A rectangular wishing pond and pavilions complete the picture. On the flat roof of the temple, there are gigantic statues of the Four Heavenly Kings and of the Reclining Buddha. Be prepared for smoke from burning incense coils smarting your eyes when you enter the temple building.
SEEN HOCK YEN TEMPLE, RAILWAY STATION ROAD, CHEMOR
This magnificent temple contains, amongst others, deities such as Confucius, Sun Tzu, Yue Lao and Ksitigarbha, the Bodhisattava of Hell. Students will pray to the deity Confucius for academic success. Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, is worshipped by businessmen. Yue Lao is popular with singles seeking a spouse. The grounds of the temple sprawls over a hectare of former tin-mining land, so disused pools have become lotus ponds and carp ponds. The crossing-the-bridge ritual is popular with worshippers during Chinese New Year as it purportedly gets rid of bad luck. Participants have to buy sandalwood as offering and must only look to the left while crossing the 70-metre bridge.
LOONG THOW NGAM TEMPLE, JALAN KUALA KANGSAR, IPOH
Situated near Gunung Lang Recreational Park, the temple was founded in 1854 when the images of deities were brought here from Guangdong Province. The cave temple consists of a fish pond, a cavern which functions as a prayer hall and a newly completed three-storey structure dedicated to the God of Heaven.
There are several rock formations within the cave that resemble animals. This temple is a popular venue for CNY prayers because the Grand Duke Jupiter is worshipped here. It is believed that those whose luck clashes with this deity need to pray to him.