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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kuan Yin Teng (Goddess of Mercy Temple) Penang

 The Goddess of Mercy Temple, also known as Kuan Yin Teng or Guan Im Teng (Guan Yin Temple) to Penangites is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Penang. The temple was built by early Chinese immigrants who came to settle down in Penang island. The foundation was laid in 1728 and the building completed in 1800. During the early days, the temple catered to the needs of the Hokkien and Cantonese community, the 2 major ethnic groups in Penang island then.


This Goddess of Mercy Temple is located at the intersection between China Street and Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (formerly known as Pitt Street).  This popular temple cum tourist attraction is opened from 8am to 6pm.

“Kuan Yin Teng (Goddess of Mercy Temple) Penang”, a copyrighted post, was written for Klang, Malaysia Daily Photo blog by Autumn Belle @ http://mymalaysiadailyphoto.blogspot.com on July 19th, 2012.

Some of these joss sticks have elaborate and lively dragon designs. Behind is a vendor selling caged birds. Some people practise this ritual of buying and releasing caged animals such as birds and tortoises as an act of compassion for merit and for good luck.

Large/giant joss sticks like these are usually lighted up during a celebration as a form of paying respect to the deities of a temple, also as gesture of gratitude after the fulfilment of a vow. This custom of vow redemption is called "huan yuan" ( 還願). This is a typical Taoist method of worship. Fruits and flowers are offered in the thanksgiving. Sometimes cooked vegetarian dishes, steamed buns and cakes are offered to the deities.

The shaded area under this gigantic old tree seems to be a regular gathering place for some local folks. The red structure under the tree is a deity's shrine.  


This temple is always busy. Locals come here to pray and ask for blessings in life, studies, marriage, health or seek protection from bad luck. In Chinese, burning Incense is called "Shao Xiang" ( 燒香) and Worship "Bai Bai" (拜拜). You can read further by visiting this link at Daoinfo.org.

One of a pair of Chinese Guardian Lions, also known as Imperial Guardian Lion, Fu Dog or Foo Dog. In the background is a typical stall selling incense, joss sticks, joss paper, candles and other prayer paraphernalia.

Lighting of incense and candles is an ancient ritual and custom passed down since The Three Kingdoms period. Incense burners are called "xiang lu" ( 香爐 ) and they are usually made of brass. 

Pigeons have made the temple grounds their regular hangout.

Outside the temple grounds nearby, a group of people are conducting an Indian prayer ceremony to seek for blessings in studies and examinations. Here they use lighted incense and candles with flowers,  milk and coconuts as prayer offerings.

Flower stalls selling fresh cut flowers for use in Indian as well as Chinese prayer rituals. Chyrsanthemums are the most popular flowers sold here.

There are plenty of flower arrangement styles to select; e.g. bouquet, basket, garlands, loose flowers and petals for the potpourri. Stalks of  the lotus flower can be offered to Kuan Yin Goddess while jasmines, orchids and chrysanthemums are popular choices for garlands. Loose flowers, citrus or kaffir limes are used in floral baths and cleansing rituals.

Elsewhere across the main road, a group of tourists whized by. Looks like they are having fun cycling around Georgetown or going mountain biking.


Pitaya, the shop selling fresh fruits and juices to quench a tired traveller's thirst. Their motto is "Juice Up Your Life". Here you can sample a lot of local tropical fruits such as water-melon, guava, water apple, carambola (star fruit), mango, papaya, jackfruit, banana, chiku, pineapples, langsat and longan.


  1. I think I hv been there before. but I did not enter. just look from outside

  2. In June, they were working on the fallen roof at the back of the temple, so the rear section is in a mess.

  3. Small Kucing, Sean L, thanks for the comments. The photos were taken in Dec 2011.


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Autumn Belle


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