About Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple
Located in Johor Bahru town city centre along Jalan Trus, the Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple is one of the oldest standing religious structures in Johor Bahru, and the most visited till today by devotees and visitors alike.
Although there are no official records stating when the temple was built, the historical plaques in the temple states the temple was functional in 1870. That’s over 140 years!
The local Chinese community has said that the temple was built by religious Chinese leaders at the time, headed by a man named Mr Tan Hiok Nee who was the founder of Ngee Heng Co.
The temple is also believed to be the first and only among the few temples to be named after a state in Malaysia.
Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple is still a much-visite place for prayers especially for the Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka and Hainan, which are Chinese dialect groups.
The temple is rich and deep in its history and cultural roots, do read on to find out more and make it a cultural must stop for your next visit when you’re in Johor Bahru.
Johor Old Temple Grounds And Interior
Outer white walls cover the grounds of the temple, creating a contrast against the towering buildings nearby. As you walk along the outer grounds there are large potted plants accompanied by large tubs placed along the walls, a spot that is popular for visitors to take some photos.
Notice the many bells around the walls which are contributed by devotees who have prayed at the temple.
Most notably is the giant Tien Gong incense pot, placed at the entrance of the temple, of which include three prayer halls in total. The entrance is flanked by two deities, known as Huang Ling Guan Yee and Su Bao Lao Ye.
The interiors of Johor old temple grounds and the temple itself are well maintained, keeping with the design and architecture of classic Chinese styles and décor.
Mini Culture Center
Next to the temple is a mini cultural center where visitors can learn more about the temple, and was built in 2007.
The cultural center also houses important historical relics such as the wooden tablet, a century-old bronze bell, various temple antiques, and a joss stick pot. Visitors can see many photos of the Chingay celebration throughout history up till present day.
Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple History
This temple of worship is one of the oldest structures in Johor Bahru. The temple was constructed during the 19th century, and it is said to have survived the World War II bombings, the only place of worship in Johor to do so.
A revamp and renovation of the temple took place most recently was quite a major one in which all the relics of the temple were preserved during 1995 and 1996, involving a total cost of RM1.5 million.
The renovations to the building was carefully done to preserve the historical artifacts, and to follow much of the traditional architecture which is said to be based on much of the designs from the Ming dynasty.
The construction of Johor Old Chinese Temple was said to be the result of the then Temenggong Johor and the Chinese community, recognizing the importance and rise of the Chinese who had come to Johor to settle, and it is because of this the states name is included in the temple’s name.
Events and Significance of Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple
Today, Johor Bahru Old Chinese Temple remains a religious and cultural attraction and its busiest times is during the Chingay or Parade of the Deities, during which statue deities of the temple are paraded around town.
The temple will organize the procession of the deities which takes place annually, usually of the 20th– 23rd in the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
The parade normally lasts a total of four days, and the highlight of the procession is the evening of the third night, when all the deities are paraded in and around Johor Bahru town.
Two days before the main event, a ‘street washing’ event will happen where a group of devotees take to the streets in a ceremony steeped in tradition, in preparation for the main event, the procession of the deities.
It is said that during the ‘street washing’ worshippers note that it typically rains, a symbolic gesture from Mother Nature herself.
Celebrations that take place are very lively, with gongs and drums in the streets, lion and dragon dances accompany devotees who will carry the deities out from the temple and into the street.
The deities in the temple are:
- Gan Tian Da Di (感天大帝) for Hakkas ,
- Yuan Tian Shang Di (元天上帝) or Tua Lau Ya (大老爷) for Teochews,
- Hong Xian Da Di (洪天大帝) for Hokkiens,
- Zhao Da Yuan Shuai (赵大元帅) for Hainanese,
- Hua Guang Da Di (华光大帝) for Cantonese.
Each of the deities is worshipped separately for each of the dialect groups.
This annual celebration typically attracts over 300,00 people, visitors and devotees alike to witness this special event which routes around major roads in Johor.
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