It is a tradition here in Malaysia that on the eve of Chinese New Year, the Chinese will visit a temple for blessing and offerings. The oldest and most legendary temple in Penang is the Goddess of Mercy Temple which is situated in Georgetown, Penang. Each year, believers of the Taoism and Confucianism teachings will swarm the temple on the eve of Chinese New Year to pray to the Kuan Yin goddess so that their health and good luck can be maintained throughout the year.
The Goddess of Mercy Temple, also known as Kuan Yin Teng, was first built in the 1800s by the Hokkiens and Cantonese residents who lived close by. Buddha and Kuan Yin have their respective followers with some even suggesting that Kuan Yin outshone Buddha in some ways as she showered her believers with much love and compassion.
Like other religion, the Chinese are superstitious too. Some believe that men whose ages end with the number 9 should visit the Goddess of Mercy temple for ‘por oon’ (blessings) so that they would be bestowed protection by the god. The others will offer light or oil (thian ewe) to the Goddess of Mercy for better luck that year.
Upon stepping into the temple, the scent of sandalwood incense greets you as each day, numerous joss stick are burnt by the devotees while offering prayers. Although a crowd could be present, a sense of peace and quiet can be felt once you set foot into the temple. The temple is busy throughout the year and not just on Chinese New Year because the locals tend to visit the temple on their birthdays too, praying for a better year ahead blessed with good health and luck. At other times, devotees will visit to seek calm or when extra spiritual protection is needed.
The birthday of the Goddess of Mercy falls on the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month, marking another time that the temple is packed with devotees eager to pay homage to their deity. Devotees will venture into the heart of the temple to congratulate the Goddess by making offerings and prayers to her. At times, opera and puppet shows will also be organized, providing devotees entertainment and creating an air of festiveness in the house of worship.
Despite being a place for offering prayers, many tourists flock to this shrine for photography opportunities. The temple is simply too beautiful to pass up a chance for photos. The sight of morning rays basking in on devotees deep in prayer is a sight to behold, thus luring many visitors to this magnificence construction which houses the Goddess of Mercy.
How to get to the Goddess of Mercy Temple
The Goddess of Mercy temple can be easily found within the center of Georgetown. Usually travelers are staying somewhere around Chulia Street; it is very near this popular backpackers area.
From Chulia Street, head right just past the Indian temple into Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. From here it is a 5 minute walk to the temple entrance. In the vicinity of the temple there are numerous nice attractions.
Video Goddess of Mercy Temple
Map of the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Georgetown
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