Thursday, 26 December 2013

Findings in a valley

The Chua Village Temple at Jalan Kebaya, near Ghim Moh. By the way, if you'd watched the Ch 8 serial (9pm) on 16 Jan, you would have seen the wayang stage belonging to this temple, shown in a flashback featuring a puppeteer. You don't get to see such stages anymore in Singapore. 
SORRY, I borrowed this headline from a very old feature from Reader's Digest. But for me, this temple was indeed "findings in a valley".

Thanks to an article on the Chua Village Temple in "Historic Chinese Architecture in Singapore", I went in search of this temple in Pandan Valley on Christmas Day. According to the article, this temple was built in 1919, founded by a Chua Hu Fan who came to Singapore in 1904 from Anxi Province. The Chua clan built the small temple on a hill, worshiping the Tong Kong Zhen Ren deity. The Chua settlement was at Ulu Pandan, a swamp then known as Tua Kang Lai. But they turned the land into plantations and farms, making a living from the soil. The plots of land owned by the Chuas were eventually sold to developers in the 1970s. The temple however remained intact today at Jalan Kebaya (near Holland Grove and  Mt Sinai Road) surrounded by modern architecture. The Chuas had decided not to release the land the temple was sitting on.

The wooden wayang stage which has seen performances by Sin Sai Hong (oldest Hokkien opera troupe in Singapore) and  the Kim Eng Teochew Opera..
The peaceful temple nestles among modern condos and residential houses.

When I visited the temple on Christmas morning,  I found a spotlessly white Mercedes parked in its vicinity. There was soft chatter and laughter coming from the basement of the stage (one of the few surviving Chinese wayang stages in Singapore). Some laundry was hanging out to dry.  Maybe the caretaker lives there. A very good caretaker as the place was spic and span. Tiny roses and other plants decorated a very tidy row of flower bed.

I threw a dollar coin into a disused well in front of the stage before entering the main temple (encouraged by the many coins lying at the bottom). The  "pop, pop, pop" sound from a tennis game at the condominium next door seemed a bit incongruous -- not something one would usually hear near a temple. (But I like hearing the pop, pop, pop which reminded me of my own tennis days eons ago.)

I am not sure whether the altar featured the original deities brought over from Anxi. But it was said that besides the statue of Tong Kong Zhen Ren (which has healing power and powerful fengshui knowledge), there were four more deities -- Kuan Kong, Fan Hou Xian Shi, Fu Xi and Shen Nong. I think there is a dangki (temple medium)  this temple as I saw a trigram and other paraphernalia associated with one.

A bit of broken tile left behind in the garden of the temple.

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