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The Temple of Heavenly Happiness is dedicated to Ma Cho Po, the goddess of the sea and the patron of seafaring men. It is the oldest and most significant temple of the Hokkien, the largest and wealthiest Chinese population group, who came from the South-Chinese province of Fujian (also: Fukien).
Newcomers from South-China erected in 1821 to 1822 a shrine on this site, as they wanted to thank Ma Cho Po for their safe journey. At that time the Telok Ayer Street (Malay for "Water of the Bay") was directly on the water front. Thus Chinese junks and ships of other immigrants debarked at the near Telok Ayer Basin. Due to land reclamation procedures it was filled with earth in 1887. Up to the late 19th century the Telok Ayer Street was the most important trade road of Singapore.
In order to keep up with the spiritual needs of the Chinese community, which had grown considerably since the 1930s, the shrine was replaced with the Thian Hock Keng Temple, built in 1839-42. Wealthy Chinese as the merchant Tan Tock Seng and proprietors of Chinese junks from China, Siam and Java donated the building expenses of 30.000 Spanish Dollars. Their names were inscribed into ancestral tablets placed in the building on the right side of the Temple. Nearly all of the building materials, the craftsmen, sculptures, pillars and decorative elements were brought from China. The statue of Ma Cho Po arrived from China in April 1840 and was celebrated with grand ceremonies and festivities.
In an adjacent hall to the main hall with the altar of Ma Cho Po one can find a further altar dedicated to Guanyin (or Kuan Yin), the goddess of compassion. In 1907 the Chinese Emperor Guang Xu himself bestowed the Temple with a special calligraphy plaque.
See also the short texts of the photo pages.
158 Telok Ayer Street