Inscription of Dou Mu Gong
Gai heard that throughout the dynasties, various Shinto spiritual powers have been used to save the world from all kinds of diseases, and to turn misfortunes into disasters. Since the Renyin year of Guangxu, people from Penang have offered incense to Serat Po实叻坡 Hougang for five stones. In the year of Ji wei 己未, the temple was built, and it was completed in the year of Xinyou 辛酉. Fortunately, all the honorary friends are sincere and happy, and the names of the directors are engraved on it.
【There are 190 names in total for those who donated below one hundred yuan.】
Set in June of the Xinyou 辛酉 year 1921
Rebuilding the stage monument of Dou Mu Gong
The contents of the two steles also reflect the demographics of the time. On the first stele, in particular, the dialect groups of two benefactors were highlighted: Hainanese and Hakka. During the 19th century, the Chinese population in Singapore was segregated into five major dialect groups: Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, and Hakka. Hougang was populated by the Hokkiens and Teochews, hence Hougang Tao Mu Temple was frequented by Hokkien and Teochew worshippers. It was relatively uncommon for the Hainanese and Hakkas to visit the temple, and even more so for them to donate to the temple.
“Dou Mu Gong” plaque
Visitors are welcomed with the signage with the Chinese characters “Dou mu Gong” (斗母宫) above the main entrance of the main temple. The simple wooden signage was presented to the temple by Guo Qingfang of Hui’an County in August 1941. Some scholars regard the wooden plaque as the oldest historical relic at the Kew Ong Yah Temple, based on the Chinese calendrical year “Xinsi Year” 辛巳年 denoted on the plaque, which corresponds to 1881 in the Gregorian calendar. However, according to a stone inscription at the Temple, the Temple was only built in 1921, nearly two decades after its founder Ong Choo Kee acquired some incense from the Penang temple and brought it to Singapore in 1902. One possibility could be that he may have brought in the “Xinsi Year” plaque from elsewhere, otherwise it was not likely that he would have dated it earlier than 1902. The next time the Chinese calendar year fell on the Xinsi Year would be 60 years after 1881, i.e. 1941. Looking at the history of the Temple, the possibility of the plaque being engraved in 1941 is much greater than in 1881, and no doubt more in line with historical reality.
Presented by devotee Liu Huiling in 1954 to thank the Gods.
Presented by disciple Yang Renquan during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival to praise the Gods for universal salvation.
This plaque commemorates the exchanges between temples in Singapore and Taiwan. It is also an acrostic blessing poem. The first word of each sentence is “I wish Doumu Palace good fortune”.
Presented to the Temple
Wishing you a long Spring, may the Dipper and stars meet your needs, may the Spirit of the Lady Mother shine on you, may bright lanterns illuminate the temple, may you be blessed with good luck, and may the gods be honored during the celebrations. From:The Kaohsiung City Cultural Institute of Taiwan, Republic of China Dean: Chen Yuan-jung, President: Tsai Wen October 16, 80th Year of the Republic of China (1991).
From the architectural structure and couplets in the Kew Ong Yah Temple, it seems likely that the worship of the Nine Emperor Gods in this temple was once closely linked to the secret societies that were established to overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming. The fact that devotees wear white shirts and white trousers during the Nine Emperor Gods Festival is seen as sign of mourning for the Hung Society leaders.
Judging from the architectural form of Dou Mu Gong and the couplets in the temple, the formation of the Nine Emperors belief should be closely related to the secret gangs that fought against the Qing Dynasty and restored the Ming Dynasty.
In the Nine Emperors Celebration, various rituals are considered to be inextricably linked to the Hongmen Gang. If you wear plain clothes, it means that you are wearing sackcloth and wearing mourning for the late Hongmen leader (some say it is Zheng Chenggong, some say it is King Lu, and some say it is for Zhu Youjian, Ming Sizong who hanged himself), wearing yellow trouser belt and yellow hands. The belt represents the color of the emperor of the Ming Dynasty); holding the incense burner to greet the Nine Emperors by the sea (river), which is the legend of the Hongmen Meeting. The five ancestors before Hongmen found a white ingot incense burner with the four words “Revolt against the Qing Dynasty and Fu Ming Dynasty” on the bottom; One day to four days, one month to four months in the couplet allude to the word “ming” in the Ming Dynasty.
According to the late Taoist priest Li Maosheng of the Dou Mu Gong in Hong Kong Street, Penang, the pronunciation of this couplet is: “日昍精华龙里羡，月朋浪荡定乾坤”
This couplet, which was presented by devotee Wan Zhigao and hung up on these pillars on an auspicious day in 1925, is a good example of the many artefacts that hint of ties to the Hung Society. There is a total of ten 日 ‘sun’ and ten 月 ‘moon’, which can be interpreted as the dissected components of Ming ‘明’ of the Ming dynasty. This couplet seems to hint that the Nine Emperor Gods worshipped at Hougang Tao Mu Temple is neither the nine-star lords, nor the nine legendary ancient ancestors of the Huaxia people. Instead, the worship refers to a bonding among the brothers in the Hung Society. The same couplet is also found on the main altar, and above the main door.
Although the secret societies no longer exist in Singapore, worship of the Nine Emperor Gods continues, and under the new management, the Kew Ong Yah is seeing more worshippers than it ever had.
This is an interesting notice board that was presented by Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery Life Release Committee in August 1944. It advices devotees and worshippers to offer fresh flowers and fruits to the Gods, instead of animal products, to cultivate boundless merits. It seems strange though, for the Kew Ong Yah Temple as a Taoist temple to put up a notice board presented by a Buddhist organization. However, there was no record on this presentation, and the mystery remains unsolved.