The Goddess of Mercy and the East India Company

Every year during the Chinese Lunar Month, the Goddess of Mercy temple in Penang becomes a hive of activity with thousands visiting the temple.

Know as ‘Quan Yin Theng’ in Hokkien among Penangites, the temple becomes a favorite destination for devotees on the third day of the Chinese New Year.

And it never fails to attract foreigners.

Carson, 42, might hail from Denmark, but he has been frequenting the temple once a month ever since he settled down in Penang.

“This temple is the only temple that attracts me a lot when I am here,” he tells Komunitikini.

The Goddess of Mercy temple is not only packed with devotees who come to offer prayers, but also those who come for Chinese opera shows and religious activities.

The Goddess of Mercy temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Penang.

It is located opposite Lebuh China and beside the Penang Chinese Town Hall building.

The Goddess of Mercy temple has been a Penang landmark since it was constructed around 200 years ago.

The temple is a symbol of pride, loyalty and compassion for devotees.

The land on which the temple sits on was a gift from the East India Company to the early Chinese settlers in Penang.

The temple houses Ma Chor Po, a patron deity for seafarers, whom many believe to be an incarnation of Kuan Im.

Ma Chor Po is said to rescue one from perils at sea because the coastal community of China, then being newcomers in a strange land, needed divine protection for their journey through the South China Sea.

A study of the altar tablets shows that the tablet representing the Ma Chor Po is larger than the one for the Kuan Yin.

According to historian Ong Seng Huat, the poems inscribed on the 60 fortune sticks in the temple are similar to those found in Ma Chor Po temples.