some Chinese temples suddenly sprouted from any available space in Chinatown and some seemed out of place, flanked by shops! But, the Thean Hou Temple is a masterpiece whose architectural finesse and surroundings are both commendable!
I hailed a taxi and told to be taken to the site. After what seemed like 15 minutes from Little India, I was stuck in a traffic jam. It was 5 pm and the driver, a Malay turned around and in a surly tone asked me, “Mam, you want to see this themple?(The natives cannot utter ‘T’ as in ‘train’) Thraffic very bad and ith will thake long thime thoo reach. You go another day.” That seemed like an order!
I was determined and replied, “Yes I do. If you say the temple will remain open for another few hours, then why not? I’m willing to brave the traffic snarl!”
Lo and behold! What stood before me was a stunning scene! The majestic 6 tiered Pagoda adorned with soaring dragons lay amid a beautifully landscaped lawn bearing statues of Chinese deities. I must emphasize that despite modern buildings towering the complex, the beauty of the colorful temple did not pale. Instead, it felt like an enchanting paradise that blended well with the surroundings.
Each stood without clashing the other.
Festooned statues of Guan Yin adorned one side of the garden and on the other were those of the 3 Wise Men, who are the Gods of Prosperity & Joy, Wealth and Longevity. There was the sculpture of the 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac on another side.
The 3 Wise Men
stood amidst a pond of water with a gentle waterfall cascading from the surrounding rocks.
I proceeded to the ‘Wishing Well’. A man who doubled up as a guide to interested visitors, said that I could make a wish! Need I think? Fervently, I began mentally preparing my list and soon earnestly petitioned all those desires and dreams to the well, albeit silently. That moment was a holy communion I had with the well and the place!
The Pagoda -an archetypal of Chinese architecture stood in its magnificent glory! Ostentatiously done, it spelt of elegant opulence, exuding cheer and joy espousing the fact that prayers will indeed be answered! Unlike some simple temples that are bereft of carvings or sculptures, which evoke qualities of devotion, this temple reflects another facet of devotion that endorses the importance of prosperity in life.
Inside the prayer hall were enshrined 3 enormous forms of deities. The one in the middle is that of ‘Tian Hou’, the
presiding deity flanked by Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) to the right and Shui Wei Sheng Niang (Goddess of the
Waterfront) to the left. I was instantly reminded about the term ‘Shui’ meaning ‘water’ and hence the name for the Goddess!
The kind faces of all three deities evoked a certain motherliness and compassion. No wonder the whole place vibrated with feminine energy! Don’t know why, but I’ve always felt extremely comfortable in the feeling that feminine energy is the ‘supreme most’.
Their assuring faces reflected a striking benevolence and that moment was indeed overwhelming!
Although the temple is dedicated to the ‘Goddess of the Waterfront’, it is Kuan Yin who is sought after, I heard.
Dusk was dawning. One last time I made another fervent wish, “Please Goddess, let me make another trip to your abode, soon with my family”. Spelling that wish, I left the main hall.
I stepped out into the open and yet another interesting sight greeted me! For, on the open courtyard was a group of students quietly practicing Tai Qi – guided by their Master. So quiet and refined was the group that only its synchronized movements were the sounds heard!
The setting sun peeping through the open eaves of the pillars, cast a pinkish blush. The entire courtyard seemed magical! I stood watching the group’s graceful performance.
Soon the driver’s words sent alarm bells ringing. I had to be at Wangsa Maju for the night for which I needed to board a train from Stasen Central!!
That porch separated onlookers, completely dividing two separate worlds! Mind you, the temple is a recent addition, but the marvelous architecture, coupled with the divine ambience is what transports you to another era!
Outside lies a a Herb Garden.
I was looking for Chinese music CD’s usually found in temple precincts. During my visit to Singapore long back, I stumbled upon cassettes with Chinese music and chants of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. Since then I’ve been hooked onto this music. The helpful lady at the counter led me to the place which contained numerous CD’’s and booklets.
I stood counting the ringgits in my purse, when she exclaimed, “This is free. You don’t pay for this. You like CD’s, you take. Community keeps these for the welfare of mankind’! Did I hear that right? I bagged a dozen CD’s and a few booklets asking again if I heard it right. But as a mark of gratitude I left a few notes at the altar.
A souvenir shop selling Chinese curios is within the complex but was closed for the day. A little disappointed, I consoled myself that I had another day to visit the Central Market.
A car zoomed and stood alongside me. On the driver’s seat was a woman with a man next to her. Behind was another woman. They seemed decent. The man spoke, “Mam you’ll find no taxi here. The place is a bit deserted. And it may not be that safe. Can we drop you somewhere.” Although grateful, I had to be cautious. Seeing me hesitate the man prodded, “You don’t have to worry. There are 2 ladies here; you’ll be safe”.