Thian Hock Keng Temple Thian Hock Keng Temple

15 Jul 2016

Thian Hock Keng Temple


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.

Thian Hock Keng Temple

Thian Hock Keng Temple

Thian Hock Keng Temple

Thian Hock Keng Temple

Thian Hock Keng Temple

The various deities at the temple stand for values such as respect, having noble aspirations and enriching oneself with wisdom. Mr Lee feels that this has enabled the temple to forge a strong sense of community spirit as worshippers are able to identify with these values that transcend generations.

The temple was declared as a national monument on 6 July 1973. It was awarded an honourable mention for the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2001 and also received the URA Architectural Heritage Award that same year.

On the influence of traditional Chinese values on younger generations, Mr Lee said: “The temple’s physical features represent the legacy of Chinese culture in modern Singapore. While I feel that the attitudes of Singapore’s youth may evolve with the times, they will be able to see the country through the years ahead if they can balance traditional virtues alongside modern ideals.”

“The temple’s physical features represent the legacy of Chinese culture in modern Singapore. While I feel that the attitudes of Singapore’s youth may evolve with the times, they will be able to see the country through the years ahead if they can balance traditional virtues alongside modern ideals.”

- Mr Lee Wan Fang, 80, retiree and long time worshipper at Thian Hock Keng Temple

LATEST NEWS

MAR '17
MAR
MAR '17
MAR