April 5, 2012

0165 MALAYSIA (Kuala Lumpur) – The temple of the Heavenly Mother

Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy and consists of 13 states and 3 federal territories, located into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Having origins in the Malay Kingdoms, which became British protectorates in 19th century, the territories on Peninsular Malaysia were unified in 1946 and earned their independence in 1957, in 1963 joined them Sabah and Sarawak (from Borneo island), and Singapore (which was withdrawn two years later). Because the country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, can be said that is also multi-religious, since ethnicity and religious beliefs correlate highly. The constitution declares Islam the state religion, while protecting freedom of religion. Approximately 61.3% of population is Muslim, 19.8% Buddhist, 9.2% Christian, 6.3% Hinduist, and 1.3% practice Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions. The same statistics indicate that 83.6% of the Chinese population is Buddhist, with significant numbers of adherents following Taoism (3.4%) and Christianity (11.1%), along with small Hui-Muslim populations.

The temple from the picture, the Thean Hou Temple, officially opened in 1989, was built by the Hainanese community living in Kuala Lumpur, and is dedicated to Goddess Tian Hou (The Heavenly Mother). It’s a syncretic temple, with elements of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, and its structure represents a combination of modern architectural techniques and authentic traditional design, featuring imposing pillars, decorative beams, spectacular roofs, domed ceiling, ornate carvings and intricate embellishments. Located on top of Robson Hill, off Jalan Syed Putra, the Thean Hou Temple is one of the largest Chinese temples in South-East Asia.

Managed by the Selangor and Federal Territory Hainan Association, the temple belongs to the Chinese community in the country and public donations have enabled the famous tourist destination to develop by leaps and bounds. The temple has four levels. The lowest level houses the nursery, souvenir shops and food court while the first floor is the main hall where cultural and religious activities are held. On the second level, one can find the marriage registration office and resource centre. The main temple shrine is located on the third floor. The prayer hall houses 3 altars, each with a sculpture of one deity or goddess.

Who wants to visit (virtually) the inside of the temple, can do it here.

About the stamp, showing a flower, Bunga Tiga Bulan (Hydrangea macrophylla), I wrote here.

Sender: K. Wilck (a friend of a friend)
Sent from Johor Bahru (Malaysia), on 23.12.2011
Photo: Joseph Jacobs

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