38. Kusu Tua Pek Kong Temple, 1923, needs conservation


Founding dialect – Hokkien; Main diety – Tua Pek Kong; status – needs conservation

It is no exaggeration to say this is the most popular Tua Pek Kong Temple in Singapore. On every lunar ninth month each year, about 130,000 people(especially aunties & grannies) travel across to Kusu island on packed ferries. So who is this Tua Pek Kong diety who could easily outrival fans of the lastest pop-star in town(he can’t sing obviously, but he promises cures, health, luck and ‘toto’ wins etc)? Also known as Hock Teck Zeng Sin (Hokkien) or Fu De Zheng Shen (Mandarin), this diety is in fact a minor diety in taoist pantheon – his duty is to look after the households,villages and usually rural lands in mainland China. Simply put, he is ‘god of the earth,’ and a prominent one especially when there are no higher ranking gods around.In Singapore and where there are Chinese communities in south-east asia, Topekong(Malay name) is worshipped by almost every taoist. Telok Ayer Fuk Tak Chi(1820), Palmer Road Hock Teck See (1844), Rochore Toa Kong Beo(1847) and Mun Sun(Kampong Kuchai) Fook Tuck Chee (1876) were early temples that were dedicated to Topekong. In terms of popularty, his appearance in temples in 19th century Singapore ranks only after Kuan Yin, the most popular diety with most dialect groups. Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) ranks third. Why were these dieties so exonorated by Chinese in the 19th century ? My guess is that the sinkehs(new immigrants from China) needed a safe voyage(hence Mazu), safety on an unfamilar land(hence Topekong) and divine protection (hence Kuan Yin). The Chinese race is a pragmatic race indeed. According to a temple guardian, Tua Pek (grand uncle) is followed by Li Ya Pek (second uncle) and Sa Ya Pek (third uncle), these are affectionate Hokkien nicknames given to popular local dieties. Li Ya Pek and Sa Ya Pek are the Chinese angels of death!
For more info on this temple, see http://chinesetemples.blogspot.com
For info on Kusu island,see http://www.wildsingapore.com/places/kusu.htm


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