|Penang Heritage | Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng) - Kong Hock Keong Temple|
The Goddess of Mercy Temple in George Town, Penang is fondly known among the locals as 'Kuan Yin Teng' in Hokkien dialect. Stands as one of the oldest Chinese temples in Penang, it was built in 1728 by Chinese settlers boasting Hokkien and Cantonese architecture.
The original name of this temple is Kong Hock Keong Temple which literally means 'The Temple for Cantonese and Hokkien', referring to the major ethnics of early Chinese settlers in Penang. At the beginning, this temple was constructed in dedication to Mar Chor Po (a patron deity that protects seafarers) and Goddess of Mercy. During the 19th century, most people were depending on sea as source of their economic income, thus they prayed for prosperity and guard from any sea spirits. As time evolves, it turned out be more popularly known as Goddess of Mercy as hearsay, this temple had provided shelter to Penangites during WWII.
Kuan Yin Teng or Kuan Im Teng also houses other deities including Tua Pek Kong, Hor Ya (Tiger God) and Tai Sui (God of the Year). What I recalled vividly as a young child years ago, my late grandfather would sort of read our 'destiny' of the new year based on an annual 'prediction' (Tong Su) book. In the event of any obstacles foreseen, we would be encouraged to pray to either 'Hor Ya' or 'Tai Sui' based on individual's compatibility. Therefore, during Chinese New Year (between Day 1 to Day 15), this temple invites thousands of visitors in a day to perform special prayer for a blessed year ahead!
If your visit fall either first or fifteenth day of Lunar calendar, the temple's atmosphere is extremely lively! With the flowers and praying material (joss-stick, incense, candles, oil and burning paper) conveniently available outside the temple, one just needs to pay a small sum to perform their offering. Observing vegetarian diet is highly encouraged on these holy dates, thus sometimes you may found vegetarian food served there.
Nowadays, one may also see the little birdies on sale. The intention of releasing birds from its cage is meant to obtain good merit where it signifies new life, freedom and end of suffering similar to Buddha's preaching in attaining Nirvana.
As one enters into the temple, it is usually smoky and crowded. The yellow stained wall, stone carving pillars and vintage floor are evidences of century’s devotion. Take good care of your
Having said that, this atmosphere couldn't beat the days when the devotees celebrate the birth, renowned and enlightenment of Goddess of Mercy which falls on 19th day of 2nd, 6th and 9th Lunar month (according to Chinese calendar). Among the common views includes sea of people would come jostling, some will bring along fruits, flowers or vegetarian cookies/cakes as offering and burning gigantic incense at the fore courtyard. If you are lucky, catch a sneak of puppet or Chinese opera show which is classified as almost a highly 'vulnerable' living heritage these days! It is usually played on a small stage at granite-paved forecourt!
Opening hours: 6:00am to 8:00pm daily
Entrance fee: Free
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