By Jerry Francis
On the high walls of the temple’s complex are towering statues looking out to the Straits of Melaka towards the popular fishing spot of Pulau Sembilan, which can be seen on the horizon.
And, walking amidst those giant statues gives the feeling of being in a filming location of an epic Chinese mythological movie.
If you have been to the Tua Pek Kong Temple in Pasir Panjang Laut, just south of Lumut, you would no doubt agree that it is a sight to behold.
There are not just a handful of statues but 98 of them, some of which are as tall as 15m. While the shortest is over 2m.
These statues, mostly white, are of various Chinese deities and mythological and zodiac characters. Among them are Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy), Ma Zu (Queen of Heaven), Jiu Tian Zuan Nu (Mysterious Lady of the Ninth Heaven), Jin Tong (Golden Boy), Wen Guan and Wu Guan (Gods of Academic and Martial Arts), Yu Nun (Jade Maiden) and Si Da Jin Gang (the Four Guardians of the Gates).
All were shipped in from China and erected on the walls of the temple’s complex and as well as inside among the beautifully landscaped gardens of fish and tortoise ponds.
Thus, the temple complex, which houses both the Tua Pek Kong Temple and Kuan Yin Temple, is attracting devotees and tourists from all over the country and abroad. It is easily accessible by road from Teluk Intan and Lumut.
The temple has transformed from just a small shrine on the beach to a major tourist attraction in Perak.
It is a testimony of how projects implemented and maintained by the private sector are improving from year to year to boost tourism, while those of the public sector are deteriorating due to lack of activities and poor maintenance.
In spite of its being surrounded by Malay villages and with only three Chinese families living in the area, the temple has been able to carry out its religious activities harmoniously.
According to local residents, Tua Pek Kong Temple has been in existence in the area for over a century. It had been moved from its original site on the beach to further inland.
The temple is said to have made numerous miraculous predictions and as a result became well-known. Hence over the years, more and more devotees began to flock in and donated to the expansion of the temple.
It celebrates the birthday of Tua Pek Kong with a grand dinner on the 29th day of the seventh month of the Lunar calendar every year.
However, one might be puzzled as to how the Tua Pek Kong deity came to be worshipped together with Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy.
It all began in 1993 when a monk saw a statue of Kuan Yin being washed ashore and an inner voice urged him to pick it up. Subsequently, a small temple was built for the statue on the beach in honour of the Goddess.
The statue was soon stolen and was returned as predicted through a Tua Pek Kong’s medium.
In less than two weeks, it was again stolen. Shortly after that a female devotee returned the statue to the temple and it has since remained within the Tua Pek Kong Temple.