Text by Victor Yue
This must be one of the few Taoist Temples where one takes off ones’ shoes before going in.
The temple looked almost new, fresh from renovation, I think. Looking at the ceiling, it was just rows of wooden beams with the roof tiles being lined on them. I am no expert in this area and so will leave it to Kent to comment. (^^) Apparently, the owners of this temple, who are the descendants of the founder, have maintained the temple very well. Well, in a way that I thought it was not old. Actually, according to the lady, it is past 70 years already.
It seems that the founder of the temple, a medium himself, carried the statue of Poh Seng Dai De ä¿ç”Ÿå¤§å¸(Bao Sheng Da Di) on his back and took a ship to Singapore. He first set up the sintua in a zinc-roof house on top of a hill near to Xi-Pai-Po-Beh (end of the hospital .. meaning Sepoy Lines). I am just thinking if it is part of the hill where the Sun Temple and a Thai temple now are (Silat Rd) or further down at Bt Purmei side. Considering the arrival of the statue, this temple would have been more than a hundred years old, said to be older than the Zhen Ren Gong at Redhill. The grandfather is said to have brought the statue from his hometown in Chuan-Chiu (Quan Zhou), somewhere in Pei Ta (white pagoda?). There were some black and white photos of the place but I could not take any photos inside. When I asked if I could take, the lady said that it was 7th month. I understood.
The lady and the man were friendly and so willing to share stories. I asked if they still have tua-li-chi (Da Ri Zi .. festive days) and she told me that they still celebrate Bao Shen Da Di’s birthday on 3M15. Each year, on the 5th day of the Lunar New Year, the Bao Sheng Da Di will also come through the medium to foretell about the year. Apparently, he did ask the devotees not to travel on the later part of the year, the year when the tsunami happened. One devotee forgot about the warning (the warning was not explicit) and actually brought her daughter to Thailand. Two days after their return, tsunami hit.
They were pointing to me a very new looking red surface with gold leaves on the design, which they told me that it was donated to the temple in the year of Ming Quo 20, gosh I cannot remember the date now (reason why I should take pictures since I don’t take notes). What would that year be? It was said that the person who donated the huge altar table had 13 wives. Of the 13 wives, he had only two children and one died at the age of 13. A househelp came to consult Bao but was told that because the father(?) had done many bad deeds, he would have no descendants. The younger kid at age 9 was also sickly. This time, the mother went to the foothill of the hill where the temple was (at Sepoy Lines), knelt at each step all the way to the top of the hill to plead Bao Shen Da Di to help. Bao Shen Da Di finally agreed (through the medium) and went into hell for 7 days and 7 nights, asking for help. He reached the court of Bao Gong and was asked why did he do this. He finally agreed to help save the kid. The grateful mother donated the table as a gesture of gratitude to Bao Shen Da Di.
So, I suppose, for each item donated to the temple, there must be stories. (^^) The statues of the Deities were all looking very bright and new. The temple have just had them cleaned and repainted. I heard that the job done in Singapore is very expensive and runs into thousands of dollars. On the main altar was the Bao Sheng Da Di with his assistants, Ti Guan Shuay and Er Lang Sheng. To the left of the altar (on the right as we see) was the 18-hand Guan Yin and the Nam Hai Guan Yin (I think, whose birthday is on 9M19) and in front, the Monkey God. On the right was Nan Tau Pak Tau (The deities of the North and South stars) who are responsible for birth and death, and there was the Chu Shen Niang Niang (the Goddess of Birth) with Tua Pek Kong in front.
There was also an old sedan chair and one spiked chair, which her grandfather sat on it only once, when he was in trance. It must be more than 100 years old. The temple then was known as Kiu Leng Keng ä¹é¾™å®«(Jiu Long Gong).
On the side of the hall, there were two pictures of the grandfather and grandmother, a dedication to them who had started this temple, and who had the foresight to built this temple on a freehold land. It was the wish of Bao Sheng Da Di, I was told.
There was another interesting story about this doctor who lived in the vicinity – Geylang area – who complained about being tired but despite all the checks and x-ray, he could not find out what was wrong with him. When he came to Bao Shen Da Di, he was told that he was already terminally ill and that there was some problem with his gall(?? – not sure about the word she used, referring to one part of the body). But despite all the checks, the doctors could not find anything. So, Bao Sheng Da Di gave him a talisman to burn and drink .. and thereafter, the source of the problem was detected in Gleneagles Hospital. His two brothers, both doctors in Australia, decided to fly him in a special flight to Australia for treatment. He died there.
And there was also a case of this guy who had severe liver problem, the same problem as his father who died earlier. A case of over drinking and the doctors could not cure him. But Bao Shen Da Di gave him a herbal concoction. Apparently, after a month, he recovered. And when the doctor asked him, he said that he doctor cured him. (^^;
It was said the Bao Sheng Da Di was a famous doctor in the old days. The Huang-Hou (Empress?) was sick and could not be cured. And so, he was asked to attend to her. In those days, it was said that the doctors could only check on a woman through a red string. When he sat down and held the string, he told the Emperor that the person at the other end was not a person! The Emperor knew then that he was indeed a great doctor. When the Empress was cured, the Emperor offered him to tell him what he wanted, gold, money. Bao Sheng Da Di refused any offer of money but asked to wear the Emperor’s headgear and robe for 5 minutes. When he wore, the palace members had to kneel to pay respect as the robe represents the Emperor. (^^) [That much I could remember and trying to interpret from Hokkien to English .. I think the Zhen Ren Gong had notes on this, and I heard that Qing Long Gong had loan them some exhibits]
It was also said that Bao Sheng Da Di was a very righteous person and he was strict. So, the medium representing him had to be strict too. It was said that once, he (the grandfather) went for a meal in a coffeshop at Lorong 25 (at that time the temple at this place was still an attap hut) and for some reason someone offered him a bowl of beef. As he was about to partake, suddenly the bowl was swept away and Bao Sheng Da Di “told” him to return to the temple. When he arrived, he asked his son and daughter in law (the lady’s parents, she was a kid then) to carry pails of water from the well in their house to the temple. And he locked the door to the temple proper. They could peep through the cracks to see what was happening. She said that the medium cut open his stomach to take out the intestines to clean them before putting them back. Since that incident, they had been very careful. The grandma was said to have gone on vegetarian diet.
Tracing further, it was said that the grandpa was considered dead at the age of three. Just as the parents were about to carry him away in a coffin, he got up. Bao Shen Da Di went to get a soul for him so that he could carry the good deeds for him. Since the age of 3, he was already representing Bao Sheng Da Di.
I was also told that the Tiger God was actually saved by Bao Sheng Da Di and since had been faithful to him.
I hope to continue to gather more information from the temple owners (^^) but this is just the tip of the icebergs and will certainly require verifications with them too. (^^)
The temple is on freehold land, and so, unless something happens, like a big change in the master plan, this temple could be safe. Looking at the industrial buildings, I hope this temple remains as it is. Kent will be able to ascertain on the architectural aspect of it. (^^)