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February 19, 2010

"Receiving the Gods" celebration ceremonies at Cheow Leng Beo

Dear Folks,

I have never attended any celebration on "Receiving the Gods" by any Henghwa-affiliated temple and so this one at Cheow Leng Beo held on 17 February was quite an eye opener to me.

 Sandalwood and joss paper arranged in a big pile outside the temple, this was where the eye-opener started (There are 2 temples in the same complex, Cheow Leng Beo is on the left)

Chanting was done and the burnt talisman placed into the pile  

Another eye-catching item: dragon-head like stick (扶乩 in Chinese, "Hu Gi" in Hokkien)

Those holding the "Hu Gi" seemed to be in a semi-trance state as they moved along with it, even writing Chinese characters on yellow paper that looked like talismans

After the pile of sandalwood and joss paper was burnt, together with beating of drums and gong, the Tangki mediums started going into trances and almost all of them walked over the fire after several attempts. Sedan chair carriers also went into semi-trance as the sedan chairs "moved". An onlooker said that the main Tangki (elderly guy) got the other Tangkis into a trance by touching them. At this moment, it was as if the space within the temple compound has been transformed into a theatrical and ritual space where the Tangki mediums and sedan chair carriers "performed". Women were not allowed near this space (I was pulled away and warned by an elderly lady) until the whole ceremony is over.

It was indeed a spectacular evening for me. 

Address of Cheow Leng Beo: 525 Yishun Industrial Park A 
(Take 811 from Yishun Interchange and alight at Blk 289 Yishun Ave 7. The temple is about 10 minutes walk from the bus stop)

February 15, 2010

String puppet and templing on Chinese New Year's eve

Went to a few temples on Chinese New Year's eve and to my surprise, I found a Hokkien string puppet performance just opposite Thian Hock Keng temple. This string puppet troupe somewhat seemed new or not one of the troupes that I have mentioned in my earlier blog entries.

Out of curiosity, I went near the backstage and found a familiar face smiling back at me. He is one of the musician in the other puppet troupe. I have yet to find out more about this troupe, will keep you folks updated soon.

Not forgetting to share the festive mood of dragon in motion in the temple!


Wishing all a prosperous and wonderful Tiger Year! 

February 13, 2010

Celebrations with marionette performances in Xing An Tian Hou Gong

正月初四            接神
正月初九           玉皇寿诞
正月十五           元宵节
二月初二           头福
二月初十           陈靖姑寿旦(诞)
二月十九           观音寿旦(诞)
三月初十           鲁府姨妈寿旦(诞)鲁妈?
三月二三           妈祖旦(诞)
五月初五           端午节
五月初九           谢府大爷寿旦(诞)
六月初六           大伯公寿旦(诞)
六月十九           观音寿旦(诞)
七月初七           公妈寿旦(诞)
七月二三           张公寿旦(诞)
八月十五           中秋节
八月二三           田公元帅寿旦(诞)
九月十九           观音寿旦(诞)
十二月十六      尾福
十二月二四      送神 

Celebration in red denotes  the staging of string puppet performances by Sin Hoe Ping puppet troupe in Xing An Tian Hou Gong. From the celebrations of these various birthdays of deities included in this list, one can tell the main deities worshipped by the Henghua community.

About Xing An Tian Hou Gong 兴安天后宫

The origin of Xing An Tian Hou Gong is still unknown due to the lack of relevant sources. It was believed to be established around the 1920s. Pilgrims and worshippers from the Mazu temple in Meizhou brought the worshipping culture to Singapore where people could pray at 133 Queen Street. This became a site of spiritual support and activity for early Putian immigrants.

Since the 1940s, the Putian (Henghua) people had been organizing activities during the Seventh Lunar Month (
公建普度,中元节) in memory of their ancestors and to engage in expiatory purification of the spirits.

In 1957, the Henghua community established the Nanyang Putian Huiguan (南洋莆田会馆) and its first chairman was the late Mr. Su Zhi Xuan (苏志宣).

In 1972, being part of the city reconstruction scheme, Xing An Tian Hou Gong and the Nanyang Putian Huigian moved out of Queen Street to 16 Madras Road. The “Puxian amateur troupe” (莆仙业余剧团), a collaboration between Sin Hoe Ping and the then Xin De Yue troupe (“新和平”与“新得月”戏班) was formed in 1974 and performed during the celebration of Goddess Mazu’s birthday in 1975. It gained much support from the community and other Putian-affiliated temples also invited the troupe to perform with which they could stage more than 60 performances annually during the peak period. Unfortunately, after having performed for 10 over years, the troupe had to be dissolved because there were no new performers to take over the old and retiring performers.

In 1987, the site at Madras Street was requisitioned and the executive board of the temple and huiguan decided to purchase its new site at Geylang Lorong 3. After renovation works were completed in 1991, the temple and huiguan moved into the new building where it still stands today (see picture below).

(Source: Putian Association Singapore 50th Year Anniversary Complementary Magazine in Chinese)

A glimpse at Xing An Tian Hou Gong 兴安天后宫:

Main altar with Mazu in the middle 


Dua ya pek on the left side nearest to entrance

February 5, 2010

Henghwa marionette performance beside Shi Dao Feng Jiao temple

The Henghwa marionette performance is held beside Shi Dao Feng Jiao temple 世道风教 at Upper Boon Keng Road, off Geylang Lor 3. Here are some pictures I took today:

Offerings in front of the stage performance

Musicians performing at the side of the stage

Towards the end of the performance

Entrance at Shi Dao Feng Jiao temple

February 2, 2010

Introduction and updates on the string puppet troupes

Here are some of the pictures taken of the string puppet troupes in Singapore:


Xin Yi Sheng puppet performance at Loyang Dua Pekong, 31 March 2010 

Sin Hoe Ping puppet performance (Henghua) at Shi Wu Dong, 26 December 2009

Feng Huang puppet performance at Blk 362 Clementi Ave 2, 26 December 2009

Qiu Yi puppet performance at Tian Teck Keng (Tampines Link), 2 May 2009