Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Temple Facing The Sea 福德祠望海大伯公

It was said that way before Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819, at this place where Palmer Road is now at, there was a thriving community. This could have been a thriving port, called Tanjong Malan, now known as Tanjong Pagar (Pagar meaning Kelongs or building on stilts in the sea used for trapping fish). And thus, it was only natural for the Chinese to first offer thanks to their Deities upon coming on shore. In this little place was a Chinese Temple dedicated to Da Bo Gong 大伯公 (more popularly known as Tua Pek Kong in Hokkien, and Fu Tat Chi (Fu De Ce) 福德祠 to the Cantonese and Hakka). As the temple was facing the sea (then), it was then known as the Da Bo Gong Temple facing the sea 福德祠望海大伯公.

This temple is probably the only "practising" Hakka temple in Singapore. For its more than a hundred and eighty years (considering 1819 as the starting point), this temple must have seen much. How its view of the sea was now blocked by containers when it could have been sending lapping waves on its steps. The bustling port activities. The different people living together - an early cosmopolitan town. There was also a famous kramat just across from the temple.

But much of the described scenes are oral history. What was it really like? Thanks to the Ying Fo Fui Kun (a HakkaClan) which administers the temple and NUS, an archaeological team has started doing some digs around the temple to understand better what life was like then. I hope that the dig will reveal more about life around the temple and the location then.

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