Da Bo Gong Temple – A Taoist Temple That Attracts Both Devotees and Sightseers

The peaceful Kusu Island, one of Singapore’s Southern Islands, has been developed from a mere couple of reef outcrops into a sizable island which has achieved the status of a holiday destination. One of Kusu Island’s prime attractions is the Taoist Da Bo Gong Temple, which houses two principal deities, Da Bo Gong and Guan Yin. Da Bo Gong, known as the God of Prosperity or Merchant God is revered for his reputed ability to cure diseases, grant prosperity, forestall danger and calm the seas. Guan Yin on the other hand is considered to confer fertility and grant children. The picturesque red-hued temple was constructed by a rich businessman in 1923.

The site of the temple is associated with a popular legend which recounts those two seafarers, Malay and Chinese were shipwrecked in the vicinity. Seeing their predicament a giant tortoise transformed itself into an island so as to create a safe haven for them, saving their lives.

Taoists commemorate this miraculous rescue to this day by making a pilgrimage to the Da Bo Gong Temple, arriving at the shrine in their thousands. A wide cross-section of pilgrim visit the shrine, praying to the deities and burning offerings. One of the temple’s distinctive features is its wishing well which has been created in the form of a lotus flower. Devotees throw coins into the well, attempting to strike the three bells located inside the well, in order to fulfill their wishes. Another ritual involves a ‘wishing tree’; pilgrims write their wishes on a piece of paper, fold it, tie it with a red string, and throw it high into the tree. It is thought that the higher the paper lands, the greater the chances of the wish coming true.

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Priya Harrison

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