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Postcards: Kek Lok Si (MY)

The Temple of Supreme Bliss, or Kek Lok Si as it is known based on Fujian dialect (the most prominent dialect in Penang) pronounciation, is the most celebrated and largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. Sitting atop the hill and overlooking Ayer Itam, it is said to be auspiciously located and feng shui-approved to protect the well-being of the temple and its devotees.

Constructed in 1893 under the direction of a well-supported head monk of the Kuan Yin Temple i.e. Temple of the Goddess of Mercy, from local consuls to the Chinese Emperor Guangxu, Kek Lok Si incorporates motifs of Buddhism from Burma, Thailand and China – a nod to both major branches of Buddhism: Mahayana and Theravada. (Note: ask most Chinese Buddhist and they’ll have a hard time telling you which branch of Buddhism they are followers of, in part due to the integration of Taoism to muddle up the mix further.)

Kek Lok Si

Kek Lok Si

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Project 365 – Week 39

Week two of our holiday came and went. We spent a good few more days snorkelling in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia (not to be confused with East Malaysia, which is part of Borneo) before we returned to my hometown for yet another family event. The questions that were hovering on everyone’s lips upon seeing me were (1) “Why did you get yourself so tanned?” (Uhmm, there’s no why, just how, and I was enjoying the outdoors for a good bit in the last 2 weeks!”) and (2) “When are you getting married?” (“Honestly, I’m not in any hurry to.”) Nobody seemed to take me seriously on either in any case.

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23 Sep: I have been to Kek Lok Si on multiple occassions and yet somehow, I have never noticed these crystal ceiling lamps before. Not only that, I have also been missing the vibrant colours behind the chandeliers, along with the cobwebs of course. Could it be the (lack of) expectation for decorated ceilings in Asian structures that tend to be unadorned, unlike European palaces and halls that come kitted with extravagant frescoes and decorative elements? If so, I’ve been remissed.

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