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A Hindu temple that also houses Chinese deities

  • Lion dance performance during a festive celebration at Sri Sanggili Karuppar Swami Temple in Batu Pahat. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Chinese and Indians each make up half of the temple council's 60 members. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Left: an urn for burning joss paper next to the Hindu temple for the convenience of devotees. Right: the temple's trilingual notice. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • 11 craftsmen from India have been commissioned to create the sculptures of deities, divine animals and other decorations that cleverly merge the religious cultures of the Indians and Chinese. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Bare-topped Chinese devotees attending the worship rituals with Indian devotees. Front row from left: Chua Wee Chin, Ragu and Tan Beng Wee. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Left: temple founder Tan Beng Wee attending the worship rituals during the opening ceremony. Right: the Eighteen Arhats pavilion beside the main prayer hall. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The statue of the temple's principal deity Sanggili Karuppar standing side by side with that of Ji Gong Living Buddha on the temple's rooftop. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

BATU PAHAT, Sept 30 (Sin Chew Daily) -- A Hindu temple that puts together the traditional customs of both the Indians and Chinese is devoted to not only Indian deities but also Ji Gong Living Buddha, the Eighteen Arhats and Datuk Kong, and boasts a Chinese burning urn, bearing witness to the strong bond between Indian and Chinese devotees.

Harmony

The Sri Sanggili Karuppar Swami Temple in Parit Ahmad Laut, Batu Pahat, brings under one roof Indian and Chinese deities for the worship of their respective devotees, offering a unique opportunity for believers of these two very different religious faiths to mingle freely and harmoniously.

The temple is also the first in the state of Johor dedicated to Hindu deity Sanggili Karuppar who is holding an iron chain in his hand, not unlike the Chinese deity Di Ya Peh who is also mounted on a horse, signaling his instant response to devotees' pleas and is seen as a deity who will answer all the devotees' prayers.

On the roof of the temple are sculptures of Sanggili Karuppar, Ji Gong Living Buddha as well as Goddess Kali. Again, it is an apt manifestation of the harmonious coexistence among deities of different religious faiths.

Half of temple council members Chinese

Indians and Chinese each make up half of the temple council's 60 members, and almost half of the temple's devotees are Chinese, too.

In addition, there are also plenty of Malays coming all the way here to visit this unusual temple, making the temple a unique place for Malaysians from different ethnic backgrounds to mingle.

Stepping into the temple, it is not hard to see Chinese and Indian devotees offering their prayers and performing various religious rituals together.

The temple's founder is a Chinese devotee Tan Beng Wee, who came up with RM800,000 some two years back together with a group of local Chinese devotees to purchase a plot of land for the construction of the temple, and later set up a joint temple council with Indian devotees.

Help from an old friend

Temple council chairman Ragu told Sin Chew Daily this unique temple came into being from his friendship with the temple's founder Tan Beng Wee.

“In 2009, I managed to raise some RM50,000 to build a small shrine for Sanggili Karuppar in Bukit Pasir. However, due to land ownership issue, we had to rent a corner lot house in Taman Tasik as temple in 2010.”

He said the temple had to be relocated in March 2017 after the property's owner refused to renew the leasing agreement. As a result, he had to bring the deities back to his house at Taman Murni while looking for a new location to house the deities.

“I had known Beng Wee for several years already by then. He always came to the old temple with a group of Chinese friends to join the festivities. After knowing that I was looking for a place to house the deities, he found a plot of land measuring more than 4,000 square feet as a new site for the temple.”

He said after Tan initiated the temple construction, it took them almost two years to bring the new temple to reality. The temple was officially opened this February.

“When the temple was facing the dilemma of relocating to a new site, there was a divine voice telling me someone would help find the land for temple construction, but I never expected that my old friend Beng Wee was the one.”

He went on to say that the temple had started to see Chinese devotees offering prayers at the old temple since 2007, and the number of Chinese devotees became bigger and bigger by the year.

There has been no problem for Indian and Chinese devotees to come together to worship and they have been mingling rather peacefully all these years.

Burning urn for devotees

Ragu said the temple not only housed the Chinese deities of Ji Gong, Eighteen Arhats and Datuk Kong, it also set aside a burning urn next to the temple for devotees to burn the joss paper.

“Actually I had a personal relationship with Ji Gong Living Buddha back in 2006, when I was at an Indian medium's house to offer my prayers. The medium's body was then possessed by Ji Gong, who spoke in Hokkien. From then on I began to worship Ji Gong as well.”

Sri Sanggili Karuppar Swami Temple has commissioned eleven craftsmen from India to create vivid statuses of deities, divine animals and other decorations which cleverly merge the religious cultures of the Indians and Chinese.

Marriage between Chinese and Indian temple styles

Temple treasurer Chua Wee Chin told Sin Chew Daily he had to collect the pictures of Chinese deities for the reference of the Indian craftsmen as they had no experience sculpting Chinese deities, adding that he also brought them to Chinese temples to see the deities' sculptures.

Chua said the Eighteen Arhats pavilion next to the main temple hall was a marriage between Chinese and Indian temple styles.

The exterior of the pavilion houses the statues of the Eighteen Arhats and one for Ji Gong, while inside the pavilion is Ji Gong's golden body brought in all the way from Jie Shou Temple in Taiwan.

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