SINGAPORE – With Chinese New Year just around the corner and a tough 2020 behind us, many worshippers will be making their pilgrimage to the different temples across the island to pray for a better 2021 ahead. More than just new year blessings, some of these Chinese temples hold important historical and cultural meanings that serve as an avenue for education for future generations.
We have rounded up seven Chinese temples that you can visit this Chinese New Year for blessings, along with a trip down history to learn more about their beginnings. It is important to note that many require pre-registration before you can visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chinese New Year 2021:
Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple
One of the most popular Chinese temples in Singapore, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, which houses the Guan Yin goddess at Waterloo sees thousands of devotees every day. Built in 1884, the temple is especially crowded during Chinese New Year and the three Guan Yin holy days.
Every Chinese New Year Eve, the temple holds the midnight incense ceremony. Devotees are let into the temple when the clock strikes 12, and the first person who plants their incense stick into the main urn is believed to be blessed with good luck. The temple had announced that they would not be holding this ceremony for 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 due to huge crowds.
Address: 178 Waterloo St, Singapore 187964
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
Built in 2007, the Tang-styled Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum sits in the heart of Chinatown. The Buddha Tooth Relic is housed in a giant stupa which weighs 3,500 kilograms, made with 320 kilograms of solid gold. Only the temple’s monks are allowed into the relic chamber, but visitors to the temple can see the tooth relic from the public viewing area.
The temple holds mass praying sessions every Chinese New Year, including Dzambhala for wealth, Jade Emperor birthday, and Tai Sui blessing ceremony; however, all sessions require pre-registration.
Address: 288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840
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Thian Hock Keng Temple
Since its construction in 1840, Thian Hock Keng Temple is one of the oldest Hokkien temples in Singapore and is managed by the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan. The temple was gazetted as a national monument in 1973. Thian Hock Keng Temple did a major restoration in 1998, which had subsequently been given an honourable mention in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage 2001 Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Devotees who wish to visit Thian Hock Keng Temple during the Chinese New Year period must register for a time slot and compile with the prevailing safe management measures. The temple has also suspended traditional cultural activities such as temple fair and lion dance performance due to COVID-19.
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
A Buddhist temple and monastery, the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery is established in 1920 and is the biggest Buddhist temple in Singapore. Sitting in the temple is one of Asia’s largest Buddha statue at the height of 13.8 metres and weighing 49,895 kilograms.
The temple will be conducting the Chinese New Year Bell Resonance and Blessing Puja ceremonies to celebrate the holiday. All visitors must book a time slot via the temple’s online booking system, and entry is strictly by appointment only.
Address: 88 Bright Hill Rd, Singapore 574117
Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple
Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple is one of the few temples in Singapore that worships Hindu deities alongside Chinese deities. Back in the 1980s, statues of Taoist, Buddhist, and Hindu deities were found near Loyang Way, and a hut was subsequently built to house and worship them. In 1996, a fire destroyed the hut and a new temple, crowdfunded by devotees, was built in place. The temple was moved in 2007 to its current site.
One of the few Chinese temples that do not close when night falls, the Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple is open 24-hour, allowing devotees to pray whenever convenient. As a TraceTogether-only safe entry location, the temple allows up to 250 devotees into its grounds during the Chinese New Year period.
Address: 20 Loyang Way, Singapore 508774
Sembawang God of Wealth Temple
The Sembawang God of Wealth Temple houses the largest God of Wealth statue in Singapore, measuring over 9 metres and weighing 8290 kilograms. On the deity’s birthday, which falls on the 5th day of the first lunar month every year, the temple opens its doors to the large statue, sitting at the temple’s roof, allowing devotees to receive wealth blessings for the upcoming year.
Every year during Chinese New Year, the temple holds ceremonies such as receiving the God of Wealth, worshipping the Tiger God, and various donation drives for the needy.
Address: 28 Admiralty St, Singapore 757611
Hai Inn Temple
Surrounded by lush greenery on top of a hill, Hai Inn Temple was first established in 1928 and once served as a safe haven for female devotees during the Japanese Occupation. Nestled away from the city, Hai Inn Temple houses the largest Brahma Bell in Singapore, weighing over 6350 kilograms, constructed in 2003. Buddhists believe that sounding the Brahma Bell brings temporary ease to the suffering of the beings in Hell, which is an act of blessing for all beings.
Hai Inn Temple holds Chinese New Year blessings ceremonies, along with monthly blessing ceremonies and events.
Address: 33 Brickland Rd, Singapore 688254
Qi Tian Gong Temple
Built-in the 1920s, Qi Tian Gong Temple is the only temple in Singapore dedicated to the Monkey God. Despite it being a smaller temple than the others in this list, the temple houses over 10 Monkey God statues and is popular amongst businessmen and entrepreneurs. It is believed that praying to the Monkey God will bless them with a quick mind to navigate their businesses towards success.
The first and eighth lunar months are when celebrations for the Monkey God’s birthday takes place and is the best time to visit the temple for blessings.
Address: 44 Eng Hoon St, Singapore 169786
Chinese New Year 2021: