Thian Hock Keng Temple was commissioned by the Hokkien clan in 1839 and completed in 1842. Step inside and it takes you back in time. Little wonder why it is one of the oldest and most important Hokkien temples in Singapore.
Drawing inspiration from traditional southern Chinese architecture, the temple’s grand entrance is flanked by bright tiles with Buddhist imagery symbolising good luck and eternity. While the main temple is dedicated to Mazu, the Taoist goddess of the sea and protector of all seamen, a second temple at the back is a Buddhist one dedicated to Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of mercy.
Mr Lee Wan Fang, 80, was born down the road from the temple at the nearby Nankin Street. The retired traditional Chinese medicine practitioner has been frequenting the temple since he was a young child and recalls how the temple has endured amidst Singapore’s changing urban landscape.
For Mr Lee, Thian Hock Keng Temple is a place that bears significance in the lives of frequent worshippers like himself. “Many devotees have a lasting emotional and spiritual attachment to this temple. Parents continue to bring their children to pray at the temple, where they pass on Chinese traditions and principles to younger members of the community,” he said.