Sunday, June 1, 2014

Miri Tua Pek Kong Temple

Miri Tua Pek Kong Temple is the oldest Chinese worship place in the city of Miri. Built in 1913, it is located at  the junction of China Street and Jalan Bendahara, just beside the Fish Market, where local fresh fish is available early every morning.

The temple is a popular tourist spot besides being a place of worship and devotion for local.

Miri historical legend states that the Miri population increased tremendously due to oil boom but lack of infrastructure such as drainage and sewage system. An epidemic caused by a vengeful spirit outbreak across the place in 1913.

It affected the locals especially the then 2000 Chinese migrants who settled down around the present wet market, with just four rows of wooden shop lots and the vicinity as a small village. 

In no time, fear spread and they deeply believed that the vengeful ghost return from afterlife to seek revenge for a cruel, unnatural or unjust death.

A Kuching Buddhist monk was summoned to perform the special prayer for few days to appease the spirits as suggested by the Chinese wise man known as Chan Chak. Inexplicably, the epidemic disappeared and all the death stopped.

A riverside temple near the riverside on the exact spot where the ritual performed was recommended before he departed. In gratitude, they erected the temple near the river to revere Tua Pek Kong, a god commonly worshiped by Chinese immigrants.

The local community fulfilled the promise to offer prayer on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar calendar. Over the past century, it had been a Centre for major festivals and religious rituals celebrated and performed by the Chinese community such as worship of the tiger or Hu Ye, Hungry Ghost Festival and Lantern Festival.

The belief Tua Pek Kong as a protector was further strengthened while many areas in Miri were bombed by the Japanese army during the Second World War but the temple remained untouched.

The current Temple was rebuilt in 1970s and renovated in 1977. It was declared a historical building under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993.

The temple was burnt down by fire on the November 12, 2007, a worship peak day due to the extensive heat from joss sticks and candles which caused electrical short circuit. 

Due to the support and dedication of the local devotees, community leaders and businessmen willingly come forward without hesitation for donation. Every part of the temple was built through donations from the community and the names of the donors are displayed in recognition of their contributions. The temple not only rebuilds but became more glamorous.

On the 29th day of the third lunar calendar yearly, the Chinese celebrate the birthday of Tua Pek Kong with interesting stage shows. The deities paraded on the streets to protect and give blessings to the worshipers. 

On the first and 15th day of every lunar month, devotees worship the deities at the temple with offerings and prayers for protection and good fortune.

The temple provides free vegetarian meals to devotees and visitors on these days. Rice donated by the devotees is given to the poor.

Today, Tua Pek Kong remains as the god commonly worshiping by local Chinese and the most notable temple as well as landmark for tourists in Miri.

                         Miri Tua Pek Kong Temple

                                                                                Dragon on top

                                                             Tradition artistic outlook

                                                                    Moon gate entrance

                                                          Beautiful design

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