This weekend I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand. What a city! It has approximately 10.000.000 residents. The population of greater Bangkok is estimated to be more than 15.000.000.
As the city expanded on the outskirts, the inner city has nowhere to grow but up. So, the city has a registered 1,000 skyscrapers.
Sittin' here on top of one of them, I am wonderin' about my near future. As you know I am expected back home in Belgium on September, the 9th (09.09.09). Only 10 days left and there is still so much to see here ... And who is gonna bring me home? I really don't know ...
The popularity of Kuan Yin as a beautiful white-robed goddess filled with puredevotion and compassion are well known to the people of Penang. Kuan Yin’s statue iscommonly found in homes and Buddhist temples in various incarnations, oftencloaked in white robes.
After having visited a mosque and a HinduTemple, it’s time for another religion of another minority … the Peranaka or Malaysian ethnic Chinese population. A minority? Well they might be a minority in Malaysia, but in Penang the Chinese community is as big as the Malaysian (both about 40% of the population).
I decided to visit the oldest and one of the most popular temples among the Chinese taoist community of Penang … the Goddess of Mercy or KuanYinTemple. KuanYinTemple has become a main attraction not only to the thousand of Buddhist devotees but also tourist from all over the world.
The temple is built with characteristic of Chinese architecture and carved with dragon and many mysterious creatures that stands up and acts as the guardian of the temple. Within the temple, inan inner chamber, is a statue of an 18-armed Kuan Yin with each hand eithercontaining a different cosmic symbol or expressing a specific ritual position. In the courtyard are two huge iron stoves where devotees burn paper offerings(gold and silver paper), an octagonal well which was once a public well for the Chinese community as well as a comforting sight to view feeding of flocking pigeons. It is also here that the followers of Hare Krishnan distribute food free to thehomeless, beggars and the hungry irregardless of their race and religion.
Today I met this nice, young man in the streets of Georgetown. His is a Peranakan. Peranakan, also known as the Straits Chinese or Baba-Nyonya are the descendants of the early Chinese immigrants to Penang. They have partially adopted Malay customs and speak a Chinese-Malay creole. The Peranakan community possesses a distinct identity in terms of food, dress, rites, crafts and culture. Most of the Peranakan Chinese are not Muslims, but practice ancestor worship and Chinese religion.
Well … that’s what I am goin’ to do tomorrow, visiting a temple of this community.
The Mahamariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu Temple in Georgetown
The Mahamariamman Templeon Queen Street, also called the SriMariammanTemple, is regarded as the oldest HinduTempleinPenang. It is dedicated to the Hindu deity Mariamman, who has a following among the Indians of South India. Scholars believe the name Mariamman comes from two words, ‘mari’ meaning power, and ‘amman’meaning mother. Thus Mariamman is considered a motherly power figure.
My name is Woody. I live in Vlezenbeek, close to Brussels, the capital of Belgium. I left my home and my family to start my journey on June, the 6th, 2006. My mission: to see the world!
If I am your guest today, it’s thanks to all those friendly people who carried me from town to town.
If you didn’t meet me in person yet, I hope this will happen soon. Until then, stay tuned!
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