Saturday, January 05, 2013

Ancestral Temple @ Ying Fo Fui Kun (应和会馆双龙山) Cemetery [Holland Village (Near Commonwealth MRT Station)]

Singapore's very short history and the eagerness of the PAP government to modernise the country means that it is very hard to find a building with simple yet strong elements of Chinese architecture.

The ancestral temple of Ying Fo Fui Kun is one such rarity in Singapore although strictly speaking, an ancestral temple is not exactly the same as temples housing Chinese deities.

As the name suggests, an ancestral temple honours the dead and more specifically, that of a specific clan which can be tied to a particular surname and/or a dialect.

It can be unnerving to see so many spirit tablets but there is seriously nothing to be scared of.

So long we maintain a clear conscience and do nothing disrespectful, we can always imagine that a tablet is simply a piece of wood prayed for by the descendants of the deceased.

Despite its age [the building was built in 1887], the place was generally well maintained with a clean environment. Most importantly, i managed to chit chat with one of the temple caretakers!

Note that i used the word building instead of temple in my previous sentence. For a period of time, it was not entirely an ancestral hall; there was also a school to provide needed education to the village children.

See! Even children can withstand the terror of studying beside an ancestral temple; there is no reason why adults have to cower in fear and treat a visit as taboo.

All the urns contained ashes and that was what i expected of the cemetery directly behind the temple, given the close proximity between each gravestone.

I was shown this booklet which indicated the number of urns (known as 金埕) placed underneath each gravestone; urns that contained bones, not ashes!! 

According to the caretaker, the bones were carefully removed from the respective coffins and each bone [Tibia, skull etc] was then tucked into a huge urn and buried.

When asked on paranormal incidents, he laughed and said that the people have been dead for so long! So no, he has never encountered anything there.

Frankly, i am not sure if i would believe wholeheartedly what i have been told. The same guy told me the above ancient tablets were specially brought in from China. That would be highly believable if not for the lack of offerings and their undesirable location at the back of the temple!

This was a stone inscription written by Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty. The sentence structuring is very confusing and i could hardly understand the content.

Dragon head on roof beam - known as Chi Wen, it is the second son of the dragon and the one in charge of rain. Hence, its presence is meant to protect the building from fire. 

Outside the temple was a locked tortoise pond. Weird as this will make it slightly less conducive for families to bring along children who can then spend some time away from disturbing their parents! 

The kids can only spend that much time at the half-moon pond; the algae green water was not clear and this would lessen the excitement. Well, at least that's what i thought. 

Side view of the historical temple. 

Intensive markings of burnt joss sticks. From far, it did appear to look like a dirty patch. Why wasn't there a holder? Not that it will make any difference. 

The Straits Times has published quite a number of articles on Ying Fo Fui Kun but nothing beats travelling to the cemetery and ancestral hall yourself for a personal visit. 

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For the location and map, click my first post on Ying Fo Fui Kun (应和会馆双龙山) cemetery.

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