The KEK LOK SI TEMPLE is a
Buddhist temple situated in
Air Itam in
Penang facing the sea and commanding an impressive view, and is one of
the best known temples on the island. It is said to be the largest
Buddhist temple in
Malaysia . It is also an important pilgrimage
centre for Buddhists from
Hong Kong , the
other countries in
Southeast Asia . This entire complex of temples was
built over a period from 1890 to 1930, an inspirational initiative of
Beow Lean, the Abbot. The main draw in the complex is the striking
Pagoda of Rama VI (
Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas) with
10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha, and the 36.57 metres
(120.0 ft) tall bronze statue of
Kuan Yin , the Goddess of Mercy.
Mahayana Buddhism ,
Theravada Buddhism and traditional Chinese
rituals blend into a harmonious whole, both in the temple architecture
and artwork as well as in the daily activities of worshippers. The
temple is heavily commercialised with shops at every level and inside
the main temple complexes selling all religious paraphernalia.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 3 Description
* 4 Annual events
* 5 Worship
* 6 References
* 6.1 Notes
* 6.2 Bibliography
* 7 External links
Another view of
Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si
The literal meaning of
Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si
Temple is "Heavenly temple",
"Pure Land Temple", "
Temple of Supreme Bliss", and the "
The construction of the temple began in 1890 and completed in 1905.
It was inspired by Beow Lean, the chief monk of the Goddess of Mercy
Temple at Pitt Street in 1887; he had served earlier in the Kushan
China . The site chosen by Beow, a spiritual
location in the hills of Ayer Itam, facing the sea, was named "Crane
Mountain". It was established as a branch of the
Buddhist Vatican in
Drum Mountain in
Hokkien province. Beow Lean was the first
Abbot of the temple. The buildings of the temple complex were
sponsored by five leading Chinese business people of
Penang known as
"Hakka tycoons". They were: Cheong Fatt Tze, his cousin Chang Yu Nan,
Chea Choon Seng, Tye Kee Yoon, and Chung Keng Kooi. Collection of
funds for building the temple was also facilitated by dedicating the
structures and artefacts in the name of the temple's benefactors.
The main hall, which was completed first, housed a shrine to
in a recessed area where many other female goddesses called the Queen
of Heaven, the Goddess of the Earth, and Goddess of Childbirth are
housed; which is said to represent, on a miniature scale, the island
Potalaka where there is a large shrine dedicated to
Guanyin in the
China Sea . People compared this shrine to the Amitabha
Western Paradise and started calling it the "Kek Lok Si" ("Jile Si").
There are also many other shrine chambers, which have stately statues,
all gilded, of the Buddhas,
Bodhisattvas , saintly Lohans , guardian
spirits, and Heavenly (or Diamond) Kings of Pure Land Buddhism.
The consular representative of
Penang reported the grandeur
of the temple to the Qing Government . Following this, the Guangxu
Emperor invited Beow Lean to
Beijing in 1904 and bestowed on him,
70,000 volumes (7,000 is also mentioned in some references) of the
"psalms and other sacred works of Buddhism" and also presented him
edicts anointing him as "dignity of the Chief Priest of Penang" and
also declaring "the Chinese temple at
Air Itam as the head of all
Chinese temples in Penang". On the Abbot's return to Penang, a royal
procession, carrying the edict in a rattan chair and the scriptures in
pony driven carts, was organised leading to the temple complex.
Prominent Chinese dignitaries of
Penang in their royal mandarin attire
accompanied the Abbot in the procession.
Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si pagoda tiers
labelled with their architectural styles
In 1930, the seven storey main pagoda of the temple or the
"Ban Po Thar", the Ten Thousand Buddhas, a 30 metres (98 ft) high
structure, was completed. This pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal
base with a middle tier of Thai design, and a Burmese crown (spiral
dome); reflecting the temple's amalgam of both Mahayana and Theravada
Buddhism. It represents syncretism of the ethnic and religious
diversity in the country. There is a large statue of
Buddha donated by
King Bhumibol of
Thailand diefied here.
King Rama VI of Thailand
laid the foundation for the pagoda and it is hence also named as Rama
Pagoda. Statue of Guanyin, inaugurated in 2002 before the
pavilion was built
In 2002, a 30.2-metre (99 ft) bronze statue of
Guanyin , the Goddess
of Mercy, was completed and opened to the public. It replaced the
previous white plaster
Kuan Yin statue which was damaged due to a fire
a few years earlier. The bronze statue is located on the hillside
above the pagoda. The statue is complemented with a 60.9 metres (200
ft) three-tiered roof pavilion (with 16 columns made of bronze
supporting the pavilion), which was completed in 2009. It is the
Guanyin statue in the world. One hundred statues of the
goddess Kuan Yin, each of 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) height, are set around
the main statue of the goddess. However, its height was restricted to
avoid its shadow falling on the
Penang State Mosque . This shrine
also has other 10,000 statues of Buddha, apart from a statue of 12
Zodiac Animal Signs of the
Chinese Calendar .
The temple complex has a large hydraulically operated bell, which
tolls with a high pitch at frequent intervals. Wood and stone carvings
are profusely seen in the temple. In front of each deity there is a
cushion, impressive scrolls, and candles set in very attractive
suspended lamps, and with a large number of priests in attendance.
Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si
Temple viewed from
Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si
Temple is located at the foot of the
Air Itam mountain in
George Town on
Penang Island . It is built over a plot of an area of
12.1 hectares (30 acres) that was donated by Yeoh Siew Beow. It is
about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) walk from the
Penang Hill Station.
Most visitors approach the temple as they ascend a stairway, roofs of
which provide shelter to a multitude of shops selling souvenirs and
other - mostly secular - commodities. They pass by a so-called
Liberation Pond, following the
Buddhist tradition of merit-making,
turtles may be released into freedom, albeit a limited one.
The temple itself consists of several large prayer halls and
pavilions for assembly and prayer, statues of Buddha; various
Bodhisattvas as well as Chinese gods are being venerated. The
architectural features include carved pillars, fine woodwork, mostly
painted in bright colours, and a plethora of lanterns add to the
visual impression. Fish ponds and flower gardens are also part of the
There is a cable car to carry pilgrims and visitors further uphill.
On the elevated platform, there is a fish pond, and the towering
statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy which is worshipped by women to
beget children. The monks and nuns, who are housed in a monastery
and who are incharge maintenance and operation of the temple complex,
consider it as a spiritual retreat to attain salvation.
Temple brightly illuminated during the 30 nights following
Chinese New Year
The temple is a focal point of festivals of the Chinese community in
Penang. The Chinese New Year celebrations are particularly impressive.
For 30 days following Chinese New Year, the temple remains open until
late at night whilst thousands of lights turn the scenery into a sea
of light. During the festival days, the complex is decorated with
thousands of lanterns representing donations offered by devotees.
Another festive feature is the long marches undertaken by hundreds of
Thailand to the temple, once or twice in a year.
Octagonal pavilion over the statue of
Worship of the deities in the temple complex reflects the diversity
of the ethnic origins of the
Buddhist devotees. Such worship could be
in the form of counting prayer beads or by burning incense or by cash
offerings or just by bowing and clapping to make one's presence known
to the deity. Highly learned people offer prayers at the tower of
Sacred Books in the upper part of the temple. Some pilgrims also offer
prayers in the extensive gardens located in the precincts of the
The religious paraphernalia sold along the winding steps that lead to
the temple precincts cater to the religious offerings to be made by
the pilgrims. The goods on sale comprise ornaments, books, pictures,
collection of sayings and strings of a sacred orange colour and
mementos such as T-shirts and CDs.
* ^ Wendy Moore (1998). West
Malaysia and Singapore. Tuttle
Publishing. pp. 104–. ISBN 978-962-593-179-1 .
* ^ A B C Davidson & Gitlitz 2002 , p. 313.
* ^ A B C Khoo 2007 , p. 37.
* ^ A B C D E F DeBernardi 2009 , p. 33.
* ^ A B C D E F Harper 2006 , p. 189.
* ^ A B C D Cheah 2013 , p. 205.
* ^ A B C D Tourism
* ^ DeBernardi 2009 , p. 32-33.
* ^ A B C Davidson & Gitlitz 2002 , p. 314.
* ^ Neo 2014 , p. 41.
* ^ White, Emmons & Eveland 2011 , p. 554.
* ^ The Star 2014 .
* ^ Khoo 2006 , p. 227.
* ^ A B C Brockman 2011 , p. 276.
* ^ Khoo 2007 , pp. 37–38.
* Brockman, Norbert (13 September 2011). Encyclopedia of Sacred
Places. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-59884-654-6 .
* Cheah, Jin Seng (19 February 2013).
Penang 500 Early Postcards.
Editions Didier Millet. ISBN 978-967-10617-1-8 .
* Davidson, Linda Kay; Gitlitz, David Martin (1 January 2002).
Pilgrimage: From the Ganges to Graceland : an Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO.
ISBN 978-1-57607-004-8 .
* DeBernardi, Jean Elizabeth (2009). Penang: Rites of Belonging in a
Malaysian Chinese Community. NUS Press. ISBN 978-9971-69-416-6 .
* Harper, Damian (December 2006). Malaysia,
Singapore & Brunei.
Ediz. Inglese. Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74059-708-1 .
* Khoo, Gaik Cheng (1 January 2006). Reclaiming Adat: Contemporary
Malaysian Film and Literature. UBC Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-1173-6 .
* Khoo, Salma Nasution (2007). Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca
Books. ISBN 978-983-9886-00-9 .
* Neo, Kyle (1 May 2014). 108 Places To See Before Nirvana.
PartridgeIndia. ISBN 978-1-4828-9734-0 .
* "Kek Lok Si". Tourism Malaysia. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
* "Stand up for moderation". The Star Online. Retrieved 24 March
* White, Daniel; Ron, Emmons; Eveland, Jennifer; Jen Lin-Liu (9 June
2011). Frommer\'s Southeast Asia. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN