offerings in Genting Highlands
|Pay it forward:
Hundreds of local and foreign devotees, including those from Viet Nam,
visit Chin Swee Caves Temple annually, where people are encouraged to do
good things or charity work to benefit others. — VNS Photo Nguyen Nang
by Ha Nguyen
Restaurants, fair ground
rides and casinos all provide Malaysia’s Genting-City of Entertainment with
endless sources of instant gratification, but the popular holiday resort also
has its spiritual side.
The temple is among a host
of attractions at the Resorts World Bhd, including the longest cable-car in
Southeast Asia, the Genting Skyway, a golf course, and sun, sea and sand at
Awana Porto Malai resort on Langkawi Island. The complex also holds cultural
festivals, such as last month’s Charming Viet Nam Week, which showcased a
variety of Vietnamese specialities, including drum shows, mua non (conical hat
dancing), and displays of ao dai (traditional dress) and martial arts.
Taking a breather from all
the excitement, we headed up into the Genting Highlands to have a look at the
Chin Swee Caves temple, named after the Reverend Master Chin Swee. The deity was
revered in China’s Fujian Province because of his supernatural abilities to
summon rain and drive away evil spirits. A massive statue dedicated to him takes
centre stage in the nine-storey temple.
The temple’s beauty is
no secret, and hundreds of local and foreign devotees from neighbouring
countries and territories including China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and
Viet Nam as well as Taiwan make visits to the site every year, according to the
Exploring the building’s
ten chambers is a truly enlightening experience. Everything from the countless
statues and wall paintings are all loaded with symbolic meaning.
Adorning the walls are
statues illustrating moral messages and warnings about what happens to
wrong-doers when they go to hell. One statue tells people not to lie to or cheat
others. If they do, they will have their tongue cut out. Another statue warns
herb doctors not to give out fake medicines. The punishment is to be dipped in a
cauldron of boiling oil. Another 24 statues, made in China, are engraved with
stories of filial duty.
These moral warnings were
powerful, one of our party members said. "The statues teach people how to
treat others. They are a valuable lesson to learn."
As well as hell, there’s
also a chance to get a glimpse of the heavens from the sky terrace, which is
over 2,000m above sea level. Visitors can contemplate the peaceful surroundings
from among the clouds.
A massive statue of Buddha
stands behind the building. Unfortunately, of the 10,000 blessing lamps
originally installed for those looking to be blessed by him, only 2,000 now
Fortune plays a big part
in the ornaments adorning the temple. Among them is the wall by the entrance
gate. On it are painted nine dragons, each in a different colour. The dragons
represent a different kind of luck. If a scholar met a yellow dragon he would be
destined to become a high-ranking Mandarin official. In the hope of living a
good life, people can pray to the Gods of Fuk LuK Sau. The trinity represent
prosperity, authority and longevity and are usually found together.
The Seven Fairies
represent similar good fortune. It certainly seems the stuff of fairy tales as
you cross a bridge bearing their name over the small stream named Dragon Mineral
Water. The water is said to have healing powers.
Reverend Chin Swee, whose
original name was Chen Puze, was born in the district of Eng Choon, Fujian
Province, China, in 1037 during the Song dynasty. Even as a child, he had shown
a disdain for material wealth and left home to study Buddhism and meditate in
After being ordained as a
monk at a very young age, he went on to seek higher levels of enlightenment from
other masters. Meanwhile, he also learnt to prescribe medicine for the sick,
which he later became famous for. He was also renowned for his efforts to help
the poor and build roads and bridges in remote areas with money he helped to
In 1083, when Anxi County
was hit by severe drought, he was believed to have summoned a downpour in
Penglai Village in Anxi, bringing relief to the drought-stricken areas. After he
took up residence in Penglai Village, the villagers built a temple on the scenic
crag for him. Observing the refreshing springs at the crag, he named the temple
Chin Swee Crag, literally Clean Water Rock. Chen Puzu then became known as
Reverend Chin Swee.
Each year, particularly on
the birthday of the temple, which falls on the sixth day of the Lunar New Year,
many devotees from the Anxi Clan pay homage to the deity and seek his divine
protection and blessings for the whole year.
Reverend Chin Swee died at
the age of 65. According to legend, he was seen sitting in his usual posture for
meditation for three days after his death. After those three days, there was no
change in the colour and texture of his body. As the story goes, this
extraordinary phenomenon confirmed the degree of enlightenment he had attained.