Amazing oriental architecture, golden statues of deities, glorious multi-hued paintings, colorful dragons and intricately created red Chinese roofs: this is what the Kuan Yin Temple in Penang is all about at first glance! But once you go in, it’s even more splendid than the beautiful façade. Set on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling in the heart of Georgetown, the Kuan Yin Temple is considered to be one of the oldest and most important temples in Penang.
If you’re heading to Penang and wondering about where to go in Penang or what to do in Penang, wonder no more! This temple should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Malaysia. Think about it: where else will you find a kaleidoscope of colors, vibrant multi-hued deity paintings, gorgeous architecture, rich history and the essence of peace and tranquility right in the heart of a city? The Kuan Yin Temple is where it’s at!
The History of Kuan Yin
Also known as The Goddess of Mercy Temple, the story of the Kuan Yin Temple in Penang is quite fascinating! It all started with one of the greatest Buddhist Priestesses in the world: Kuan Yin. Originally born in India, Kuan Yin was a very benevolent and compassionate woman who believed in the concept of compassion over punishment. Up to today, Kuan Yin has hundreds of thousands of devotees who come to Penang to visit the temple and pay homage to her compassion and benevolence.
The History of the Kuan Yin Temple of Penang
Here’s an interesting factoid: when the Kuan Yin Temple was built in the year 1795, it was dedicated to Ma Chor Po, who was the patron saint of seafarers. Built by Chinese seafarers who eventually settled in the villages of Penang and became more urbanized, the temple was rededicated to honor the memory of Kuan Yin, the one who showcased everything that was good: compassion, motherliness, purity and devotion to religion in the year 1824.
According to local myths, The Goddess of Mercy Temple is said to protect the people of Penang from harm and as long as the temple is in existence, then the residents of Penang are safe from adversity and racial issues! This is also why many of the locals love this temple and work towards maintaining it.
The Statues of the Deities
Within the Kuan Yin Temple, there are a number of statues of deities, some of which are truly marvelous and created out of a mix of precious metals and gems. These statues are quite fascinating with their intricate attention to detail, ritualistic positions and cosmic symbols, and are guaranteed to completely justify your trip to this temple.
A favorite of the locals is the statue of Kuan Yin that stands in one of the inner chambers of the temple. This statue shows Kuan Yin with 18 arms, all of which are shown to be in different positions showing the different rituals, with some holding a variety of cosmic symbols. Apart from this statue, there are also a number of other deity statues and carvings of dragons and other protection monsters that are worth checking out! No visit to Penang is complete without checking out the amazing statues within the temple.
The Feast of the Kuan Yin Temple
One of the best times to visit the Kuan Yin Temple and experience it in all its glory is during the enlightenment days of Kuan Yin. These happen to be on the 19th of the second, sixth and ninth months of the Chinese lunar calendar. On these days, there is a huge celebration with food, puppet shows, opera and worship of this deity.
Don’t miss out on your chance to check out this: one of the best things to do in Penang! However, always remember that this temple is quite ancient and is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites and deemed to be a very worthy place of worship for the people of Penang. Tread softly and avoid any sort of noise, pollution or damage within the temple and its courtyards. We preserve what we hold dear for our future generations to enjoy. Let’s practice responsible tourism.