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It’s not every day deities have to move house - but for the Singapore Chee Chung Huay, it was necessary.

The Taoist temple has been standing at 364D MacPherson Road since the late 1960s, and with a fresh 30-year lease recently granted by the Singapore Land Authority, plans are under way for the aged building to be torn down and replaced by a larger complex.

This is the temple building that will have to go very soon - such a pity.

Before the rebuilding, the temple’s deities had to move to a temporary tent next to the current building. A ceremony was held this morning, Saturday 20 April (the 12th day of the 3rd Lunar Month).

These were the original altars in the main hall.

A large crowd of temple staff and volunteers turned up for the move. Guided by a master, and supported by a lion dance troupe and band, they went through the necessary rites to shift - one after the other, in order - Da Sheng Fo Zu (大圣佛祖 / The Great Sage and Patriarch, also known as Sun Wukong or the Monkey God), Tai Shang Lao Jun (太上老君 / The First and Greatest Old Lord), Huang Lao Xian Shi (黄老仙师 / Old Yellow Immortal Master), and Ben Tu Shi Shan Shen (本土石山神 / The Local Stone Mountain Deity).

The proceedings began with the “filing” of “documents” - Chinese religion is famously bureaucratic, a legacy of ancient China’s Confucian state bureaucracy. These talismans were then burned in front of each of the deities.

Da Sheng Fo Zu moved first.

The temporary site was right next to the old building, so the procession was mercifully short.

Installing Da Sheng Fo Zu.

Tai Shang Lao Jun was next.

Huang Lao Xian Shi was third.

The temple’s main urn was also carefully carried over. This time, the procession was ordered to walk three rounds around the temple’s secondary urn, which was outside the main hall.

After the deities were installed in their new altars, the band played heartily for them. Accordingly, the skies opened.

A final prayer session was in order.

Offerings laid out for the deities. Everyone was asked to offer five joss sticks - my guess is one stick for each of the four deities, and one more for the Jade Emperor.

The final prayer session.

The culmination of a morning’s hard work!

The deities will need to be moved again - once the new temple building is completed in a couple of years. But for now, they look comfortable there.

On Wednesday 6 March, I had the pleasure and honour of giving a presentation on the transport and urban history of Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar, to docents and trainee docents for the URA-Friends of the Museum Chinatown Heritage Trails.

The presentation was titled A Brief History of Movement in Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar, 1819-1941. Content was taken from my book, Jalan Singapura: 700 Years of Movement in Singapore.

Of course I royally overran my time, but there was so much to share. Everyone was so kind and attentive. Really enjoyed the session.

Thank you FOM for having me!

2023 is coming to an end, so here’s my year-end tradition of posting 12 photos, one for every month of the year that has just passed.

January: The most peaceful place in Siglap.

February: Taking to the skies again.

March: We had a once-in-a-lifetime audience with an elderly gentleman from Central Asia.

April: Communing with nature.

May: Learning to connect with our streets again.

June: Approaching the end of an era at West Coast Road.

July: The rise of new connections in Jurong West.

August: The arrival of the gods, Part I.

September: The arrival of the gods, Part II.

October: Sending off the Nine Emperor Gods.

November: It has been a year since you left us.

December: The temple with two gopuram.

Photos from 2020, 2021, and 2022.


What will 2024 bring?

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