Seng Wong Beo Temple
(GPS: 1.27576, 103.84485) is a small temple along Peck Seah Street
. This temple is famous for conducting "ghost marriages". Also known as Du Cheng Huang Gu Miao, meaning "Temple of the City Protector", Seng Wong Beo is a Taoist temple similor to Seng Ong Beow
in Penang. It is located at Peck Seah Street in Tanjong Pagar
. Even though it is a Taoist temple, Seng Wong Beo Temple was actually founded by Reverend Swee Oi, a Buddhist monk from Quanzhou, China
, who came to Singapore. He witnessed the suffering of the common labourers and rickshaw pullers who were falling sick from the hard life they endured in the distant land, in addition to feeling lonely and homesick. Swee Oi decided to build a temple for them,-tem so that they have a place to worship and pray for the welfare of their loved ones back in China.
Seng Wong Beo Temple was established on the 31st year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty, coinciding with the year 1904. Within the temple hall is a tablet presented by the Chinese Consul to Singapore, Zuo Beng Long, two years after its establishment. Seng Wong Beo Temple is dedicated to the Cheng Huang, the patron deity that protects the city. Cheng Huant is also the Chief Magistrate of Hades, that is to say, the deity responsible for guiding the dead into the underworld. For that reason, Seng Wong Beo Temple is the venue for a unique ritual: ghost marriages.
Hundreds of this ritual have so far been conducted at the temple. According to Taoist belief, the rules in Hell permit only the married to eat at the table. Children and the unmarried could only eat under the table. For that reason, the spirit of miscarried foetuses and the unmarried would not be able to receive offerings made on family altars. A ghost marriage has to be conducted to upgrade their status and meal tickets in Hell.
Ghost marriages are usually conducted when the dead appear to their living relatives, seeking their help to find them a match. Though rituals conducted at ancestral altars, the dead were introduced to each other. The success of the match is determined by the casting of lots and interpretation of dreams.
During the ghost marriages, the altar is decked with paper furniture such as bed, car and other material possesions for the dead. Paper effigies of the bridal couple are positioned in worshipful posture in front of the temple deity. Eventually the gifts are torched.
Seng Wong Beo Temple, Singapore
(9 July, 2006)
You can take the North East Line
to the Chinatown MRT Station (NE4) or the East West Line
to the Tanjong Pagar MRT Station (EW15).
Seng Wong Beo Temple is on the map of Peck Seah Street
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