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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jan 31, 2014

Ma Zu - Goddess of the Sea

Courtesy of Mr Ramalakshmi Rajan - photo of Ma Zu altar with thanks.
Courtesy of Thian Hock Keng website with thanks.

Thian Hock Keng is one of the oldest and most important Hokkien temple in Singapore. It was visited by Chinese immigrants giving thanks to Ma Zu (Goddess of the Sea) for their safe voyage.

In 1839, under the leadership of Mr Tan Tock Seng and Mr Si Hoo Keh, the Hokkien clan built the temple in Telok Ayer Street. It also housed the clan's office and served as a meeting venue. The construction of Thian Hock Keng was completed in 1842. The details of the temple’s history are recorded in granite tablets on the wall inside the Entrance Hall.

There is also a plaque inscribed with the words Bo Jing Nan Ming (Gentle Waves over the South Seas) presented by Qing Dynasty Emperor Guang Xu in 1907, evidence of the temple's stature.

The temple was built in traditional southern Chinese architectural style. The entire structure was assembled without nails. It is an architectual masterpiece of stone, tiles and wood, dragons and phoenixes, amazing carvings, intricate sculptures and imposing columns.

Thian Hock Keng which is managed by Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan was gazetted as a national monument in 1973. Over the years, Thian Hock Keng has been restored several times. The most comprehensive one commenced in 1998 and was completed in December 2000. This restoration project won 4 architectural awards, including the most prestigious award from UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage 2001 Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation Building.

The altar of Ma Zu at the main hall of Thian Hock Keng.  Photo courtesy of Victor Yue with thanks.

Ma Co – Goddess of Sailing Protector

媽祖 People outside China dubbed Ma Zu {Hok Kian = Ma Co} as “Goddess of Sea from China”, was one of treasures of the most respectable Chinese Gods in the circle of people. Ma Co temples in Taiwan only, reach the amount of 800 units. The most crowded Temple is in 北港 Bei Gang. Every year at the 23rd day of 3rd month of Chinese calendar (coincided with Ma Zu’s Birthday), people who come to worship in this Temple, reached the amount of more than 1 million people.

Ma Co was also known with the title 天上聖母 Tian Shang Sheng Mu {Thian Siang Sing Bu}. Her familiar nickname was 媽祖婆 Ma Co Po. Her original name was 林默娘 Lin Mo Niang {Lim Bik Nio}, born in 福建 Fu Jian {Hokkian} Province, 湄洲 Mei Zhou {Bi Ciu} island nearby 莆田 Pu Tian {Poh Chan}. Lin Mo Niang was born at night at the 23rd day of 3rd month of Chinese calendar of 960 A.D., namely during the government of Emperor Tai Zu of North Song Dynasty, the first Jian Long year. When she was born, red light focused on from the sky into her delivery room & fragrance was smelt anywhere. Why was she named Mo, meaning silent? Since she was born until she was in the age of more than 1 month, Ma Zu has never cried any more. Then his father named Lin Mo Niang (Reticent Girl).

Since she was in a carrying cloth (in the age of around 1 year), when she saw Buddha Rupang or Gods statue, she directly gave salute with Pai – have characteristic of Anjali (worship position with both hands flat on the chest). When she was 5 years old, Lim Bik Nio could read 觀音經 Guan Yin Jing {Kwan Im Keng = Kitab Suci Kwan Im} by heart. It proved that Lim Bik Nio has in-depth motive soul mate with Buddha & Gods.

During the school age she could understand lessons San Jiao {Sam Kaw = Tridharma: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism} with the extraordinary understanding. In addition to study diligently, she was also diligent to pray. She was very loyal to her parents, and liked to help neighbors who were suffered from calamity. Therefore villagers respected her very much.

After becoming quite mature she was not willing to get married even though she was proposed by a wealthy person Bu from Hokkian. Her mission came to the world to help the mankind started to show her intense feeling in the age of 16 years old.

Lim Bik Nio considerably understood astronomy & weather circulation. Life in the seaside made her become a girl who was not fear to encounter horrible typhoon and wave being confronted by the seamen. In addition, she could also treat sick person. Her skill in this treatment resulted in the villagers called her as Ling Ni meaning Miracle Girl, Long Ni (Dragon Girl), and Shen Gu (Sacred Auntie).

In the age of 23 years old, Lim Bik Nio managed to defeat 2 invulnerable ghosts that controlled Tao Hua Shan Mountain. Both ghosts were Qian Li Yan {Cian Li Gan} who could see from thousand kilometers away, Li, and Sun Feng Er {Sun Hong Ni} who could hear from thousand kilometers away, then became her guards. Furthermore, Lim Bik Nio helped people to eradicate crimes and helped ships attacked by hurricane on the sea. Due to her good deeds her name was well known in the entire province.

Once upon a time when she slept, in her sight she saw her father and both older brothers had trouble in the middle of the sea. The boat they rode was hit by the wave resulting in it broken disorderly. Immediately Bik Nio flew from the heavens and went down to help them. Her oldest brother was held with her left hand, while her right hands seized her second brother. Her powerless father was helped by biting her father’s shirt. Suddenly, Bik Nio’s mother woke her up from her sleep since she heard a queer sound of Bik Nio like she was talking in her sleep. Bik Nio woke up suddenly. After she composed herself, Bik Nio told her mother that she had just helped both of her older brothers but she failed to help her father because when she was biting her father’s shirt, she replied her mother’s call (who woke her up). So that her mouth was open and her biting loosened.

Ever since her divine mission was getting stronger and stronger, she helped anyone who needed help on the sea.

During Tiong Yang celebration, the 9th day of 9th month of Chinese calendar or 987 A.D., when she was 27 years old, Lim Bik Nio ascended to the paradise. In that morning day, people of Mei Zhou saw colorful cloud blanket such island. In the sky, it was heard a very melodious music. It was seen Lim Bik Nio slowly ascended to the heaven and to become a Goddess. One year later, the people established a temple in the place Lin Mo Niang was lifted to the paradise. The temple established in Mei Zhou was the first Ma Zu Temple in China.

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Thanks to my blogger friend Victor Yue of Bullock Cart Water blog and creator of the Chinese New Year Temple Events, invited me on the eve of Chinese New Year (CNY) from 11pm, many Chinese temples in Singapore were opened to allow devotees to offer their first joss sticks to their Deities.  "They can join in as a devotee to offer your first joss sticks for the Chinese Lunar New Year, or just join in the fun observing this ancient traditions that you can find wherever there are Chinese who still practice this custom."


I do not visit Thian Hock Keng very often.  However,  I remember that my mother brought me to the temple the first time over fifty years ago when I was about 6 or 7 years old.  My mother was a pious and devotional Taoist who visited the temples in Singapore regularly when she was still alive.

It was during some kind of festival and the temple was very crowded. Although it was during the day, the chamber areas where the deities altars were not well lighted in those days. The main hall was smoky and Mother asked me to stand quietly at a corner while she offered prayers to every altar in the temple.

The youngsters these days are now using iPhone or iPad and other advanced technology device users to capture memories of the traditional Chinese puppet show at a stage opposite the Thian Hock Keng.  A better educated, creative and Internet-savvy younger generation compared to those of my age five decades ago. Indeed, a better educational opportunities and potentials for a better Singaporean generation now.

How was the Thian Hock Keng almost a century ago?

In the olden days, devotees to Thian Hock Keng would travel either by bullock carts or jinrickshaws.

The urn in the temple a century ago (above) and the one today (below)

The same pair of stone lions at the entrance of the temple
The stone carvings on both sides of the temple's walls are also century-old
Ma Zu Temple in Taiwan

On 1 January, 2014 during my visit to Taiwan, a short stopover was included in the tour itinerary to Keelung, a seaport in Taiwan.  It was my first visit to the century-old Ma Zu Temple.

Keelung Qingan Palace, also known as "cages Mazu Temple", located in Keelung, Taiwan Zhong Road, is a Taoist temple, Lord Bong Matsu, so do the other called "Keelung Mother." Three Temple and Keelung its Mingliejilong one of the eight ("Qing'an pilgrimage").Temples history traced back to the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong 45 years (1780), the West Bank settlers Zhangzhou Port bovine thick, coastal fishermen for the sake of smooth sailing and fishing, dedicated to Goddess of the Sea.

According to folk legend, the tsunami in Keelung in 1867, Matsu apparitions, the water was stopped front of the temple. Mastsu is the "Goddess of the Sea" and the temple and the residents in the area was protected and blessed.

Ma Zu, "Goddess of the Sea" is worshipped in Singapore, Taiwan or anywhere in the temples in the world for protection, blessings by their devotees all over the world.


Jan 26, 2014

Play With Onion Pancake


蒽油餅是一種由蒽作成的煎餅,  在街頭, 夜巿常可見到, 是宜蘭的特色小吃; 讓我們一起 DIY 動手作蒽油餅, 體驗蒽樂趣, 感受三星蒽作成的蒽餅有不一樣的美味。

Sanxing spring onion farm in Ilan, Taiwan welcomes travel companies, tour buses, staff travel, organizations, groups of individuals, self-improvement activities, extracurricular teaching activities riveted Sanxing onions DIY trip.

This DIY activities at the Sanxing spring onion farm was included in the tour itinerary during my trip to Taiwan to share with the photos on this blog.

At the Onion Pancake "Do-It-Yourself" DIY fun activities

At the kitchen to learn how to fry the onion pancake ...
Our friendly and helpful Tour Guide,  Mike Cheng

Job done and completed!  Everyone was satisfied and happy with the delicious onion pancake to play and eat with our own food  ; )