Thursday, October 06, 2005
9. Seng Wong Beo 都城隍古庙
Situated at the bend of Peck Seah St, this 100 year old temple has seen much changes in its surroundings. The old pre-war houses had been torn down, and so were its neighbouring houses. Now it is nested between two growing giant sky scrapers.
Some hundred years ago, a Buddhist monk, Rui Yu founded this temple with the City God (Cheng Huang), Kisitigarbha Boddhisattva, and Avalokitesvra as the main deity. From the plaque placed outside the temple, were the following notes:
The temple was founded by Reverend Swee Oi from China. The Reverend whose family name was Huang, was educated and well versed in poetry. He was an imperial scholar during the Qing dynasty. However his keen interest in Buddhism led to his decision to become a monk. He was ordained in Fuzhou Quanzhou.
He later came to Singapore where he saw many Chinese who sailed in boats from China and settled mainly in the Tanjung Pagar and Telok Ayer areas. They worked mostly as labourers in the harbour and also as rickshaw pullers. Their life was hard. Falling ill and feeling lonely and home-sick were common. Their hardship touched Reverent Swee Oi who then decided to build a temple in Tanjung Pagar. He wanted these people to have a place where they can worship and pray for the well-being of their loved ones back home in China.
The temple was first built in the 31st year of the Qing Emperor Guang Xu's reign. Two years later, the then Chinese Consul to Singapore, Zuo Bing Long, personally wrote a tablet and presented it as a gift to the temple. The tablet still hands in the main prayer hall of the temple.
The temple worships the City God. According to Chinese beliefs, the City God guards the city from evil. Devotees come to the temple to pray for the country's peace and prosperity, for the triumph over evil and for the good health of all. The City God rewards good deeds and punishes the evil ones. He also has the responsibility to guide souls of the dead to the underworld. His temple has been and continues to be a place of solace for its many devotees.