At this temple in Raffles Place, you can see men and women both quietly slip in on any given day. Why? Chances are they’re looking for love — with a little help.
At the Yueh Hai Ching Temple, or Guangdong Calm Sea Temple, people tie red strings around Yue Lao, the Chinese god of marriage, one of the many deities housed at the temple, in hopes of boosting their chances of tying the knot.
The neck of the Yue Lao statue is adorned with a thick bundle of red threads left by devotees, which the deity is said to use to tie the feet of destined lovers together.
It was here that bunker surveyor Ang Wenjie, 29, solemnised his marriage to administrative operations executive Chong Gaik See, 26, last November. They had prayed to Yue Lao at other temples four years ago to find a partner.
They are the second couple to do so after software engineer Mah Chun How, 34, and accounts assistant Kang Say See, 25, who solemnised their wedding there last September. Both had prayed to Yue Lao at the temple, looking for love.
The matchmaking deity has become popular after word spread of how it had blessed the Mahs, after their story was reported in the media last September. While Yue Lao used to receive one or two devotees a day, temple caretakers said it now gets around eight visitors a day and up to 18 on weekends.
Some of these worshippers hail from Indonesia, China and Thailand. A few are Hindu devotees.
Way before Yueh Hai Ching Temple, which was gazetted as a National Monument in 1996, won fame as “the love temple”, it was known as a place where people visited to give thanks for safe sea journeys.
Today, the temple is moving with the times. A mobile application to teach visitors about its history as well as Teochew culture has been developed by the Kongsi and is now available for download on Android phones after a soft launch yesterday.
Inside each hall, a carving of a pair of dragons can be seen on the right wall while on the left is a carving of a tiger and its cubs. Worshippers would enter the temple by the right to receive the dragon’s blessings, before leaving by the left to escape the dangers represented by the tiger.
Though the temple’s location in the Central Business District means it draws irregular crowds of worshippers, Mr Lee is optimistic it will remain relevant into the future.
“As long as people have faith in the deities, they will continue to come,” he said.
Head to 30B, Phillip Street to discover this temple for yourself.
Text: The Straits Times / April 2017
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