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Larry Lam's Guide Note
KUALA LUMPUR

THEAN HOU TEMPLE

The Thean Hou Temple is a striking six-tiered Chinese temple. It is located on a 1.67 acres of land atop Robson Heights along Lorong Bellamy, overlooking Jalan Syed Putra (Federal Highway). It is completed in 1987 and officially opened in 1989. The property belongs to the Persatuan Hainan Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (Hainanese Association of Selangor and Federal Territory). This temple, built by the Hainanese community living in KL is dedicated to Goddess Tian Hou (The Heavenly Mother).

The Hainanese (people originating from the island of Hainan in China) were traditionally fishermen and sailors. They prayed to and worshipped Tian Hou for safety and protection while they were at sea. This practise has continued even though their community in KL no longer goes out to sea. The people coming to this temple for worship are from a cross section of the local Chinese population (of all walks of life and various dialects).

This syncretic temple with elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism is a grandiose structure and represents a successful combination of modern architectural techniques and authentic traditional design featuring imposing pillars, spectacular roofs, ornate carvings and intricate embellishments. Its grand architecture has made it a popular tourist destination.

The front entrance of the temple features a multi-arched gateway with red pillars, the colour symbolic of prosperity and good fortune. Souvenir stalls and a canteen are found on the 1st level. The 2nd level houses the multi-purpose hall while offices are located on the 3rd level. The 4th level has 3 tiers and the prayer hall is located here.

The prayer hall houses 3 altars, each with a scuplture of one deity or goddess. As we enter the prayer hall, the altar on the right is dedicated to Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Tian Hou is in the centre while Shui Wei Sheng Niang (the Goddess of the Waterfront) is at the left.

FORTUNE TELLING
Visitors can have their fortune told at the prayer hall. There are 3 'fortune telling' machines. Each machine consists of a cylindrical container with small drawers around it. Numbered sticks have been placed in the container.
You will need to draw up the whole bundle of sticks and drop them back into the container. The sole stick that sticks out is your 'luck'. You then match the number on the stick with the appropriate drawer. Each drawer contains pink slips of paper with the fortune told in Chinese and English.
Donation boxes are available in the prayer hall for those who would like to contribute to the maintenance of the temple.

Located to the right of the prayer hall, behind a souvenir stall is a small fountain and wishing well with a statue of Guan Yin. It dispenses drinkable water when a vistor kneels or steps on the platform.

Newlyweds are frequently seen here as the temple provides a lovely location for video filming and picture taking. Couples wishing to get married can have their marriage registered and solemnised here and multi-purpose hall on the 2nd level is available for the wedding reception and dinner.

Photography is allowed but visitors are remindered to leave their footwear at the steps before entering the prayer hall.

Dragons are prominently featured in this temple. At the 4th level, the courtyard has a mural of a fierce dragon and the white pillars of the prayer hall are decorated with writhing dragons. Its image is also seen on the walls and roofs. The dragon was the most revered of all animals during ancient times and is symbolic of life. It is a sign of vigilance, strength and goodness.

In the small garden at the front of the temple are interesting statues of Guan Yin and the Three Wise Men (from right; The God of Longevity, he holds a staff and a peach; The God of Wealth, he holds a sceptre sword; and, The God of Happiness and Prosperity, he holds a child). Sculpture of the 12 animals representing the years in the Chinese calendar can also be seen.

THE TIAN HOU LEGEND
Lin Mo was born on the 23rd day of the 3rd month of the lunar calender in 960AD (Song Dynasty). The baby was given the name Mo (silence) because as a newborn she never cried. She grew up in Meizhou Islands off Putian in Fujian and died on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month in 987AD at the age of 27.
Lin Mo was always lending a helping hand to villagers who were in difficulties, and she gained love and respect for her many good deeds. Her knowledge of herbal medicine enabled her to cure the sick and she taught the villagers how to prevent diseases and ward off calamities. She was also familiar with the sea and was good at making astronomical observations and calculating weather changes. Lin Mo could tell when was the right time for sailors and fishermen to go to sea.
As a deity, her reputation spread and grew. It was said that she could ride the clouds across the ocean, and many times used her powers to save merchant ships and fishing boats. She was honoured several titles by different emperors of different dynasties - Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing. During the Qing Dynasty, she was known as Tian Fei(Heavenly Princess), Tian Hou (Heavenly Empress)and Tian Shang Sheng Mu (Divine Mother of Heaven). She is also known as Ma Zu (or Ma Zhou and Matsu), Tian Hou Niang Niang and also, Ma Hou.
She was worshipped as a sea goddess by Southern Chinese fishermen. No fisherman would leave the shore without invoking her blessings (for a safe voyage) and none would forget offering thanks after his safe return.
The statue of Tian Hou is normally accompanied by images of her 2 assistants, General Chien Li Yen (Eyes That See a Thousand Miles) and General Shun Feng Erh (Ears That Hear the Wind).


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Last updated: 2nd December, 2003.
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