Kuala Selangor, founding place of the Selangor Sultanate, used to be the British colonial government’s administration centre in the late 19th century, and a district officer (DO) was appointed to assist the Sultan in handling state affairs. The DO once got into a railway accident, luckily a black-faced person pulled him out of the train to escape unscathed. Afterwards, he passed by a small temple at the foot of Bukit Melawati and noticed that his saviour was the deity worshipped. As a token of appreciation towards this deity, after discussion with the temple committee, the DO personally granted a freehold land for the temple, exempt from taxes, announced via press statement on 19th March 1897. The temple committee then managed Tian Fu Gong’s construction, completed in 1898 at its current address.
The British colonial government brought in swarms of Chinese labourers from Hokkien to mine iron in Kuala Selangor, hence their beliefs spread. The three main deities worshipped in Tian Fu Gong are MāZǔ, Lord GuǎngZé, and Zhāng Gōng Shèng Jūn, tracing back to Hokkien folk beliefs. Zhāng Gōng Shèng Jūn, who is also known as ‘Huat Choo Gong’ or ‘Tua Hock Gong’, has a black face, messy hair, and holds a sword in protection. The ‘Tua Hock Gong’ statue in Tian Fu Gong was brought from Hokkien to Kuala Selangor by senior Mr Tee Bee Siew; whereas the sworn brothers of Zhāng Gōng Shèng Jūn, ‘Dji Hock Gong’ Siau Gong and ‘Sa Hock Gong’ Ang Gong, were worshipped at Batang Berjuntai and Sekinchan respectively.
In the early 20th century, educational resources were scarce, the Tian Fu Gong committee organised classes at the vacant temple grounds, where local intellectuals taught nearby children Three Character Classics and the Analects of Confucius. As the number of students increased, the temple compound became inadequate. With tremendous support from the local neighbourhood, SJK (C) Aik Thee moved out of Tian Fu Gong into its current address, which lies 800 metres away, housing 300 pupils. Acclaimed Malaysian patriarch Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay used to study at SJK (C) Aik Thee during his childhood, his wife Puan Sri Tan Kai Yong once held a teaching post there too. Food stalls filled the freed up temple grounds, however along with a few rebuilds, in 2018 the grounds were renovated into a Chinese Zodiac Garden.
The current temple committee president Uncle Tee Lai Thian’s family has intricate bonds with Tian Fu Gong, having held posts in the temple committee since his great-grandfather’s generation. Back in the 50’s, his father was president. After his father passed away in 1987, his uncle succeeded the position, until he took over in 2005. Tian Fu Gong organises three annual festivals, namely MāZǔ’s birthday in the third month of the lunar calendar, Huat Choo Gong’s birthday in the seventh month of the lunar calendar, as well as donations to the elderly and needy during Chinese New Year, initiated since the temple’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1990. Huat Choo Gong’s birthday is the grandest celebration, with 100 brilliantly coloured joss sticks standing in front of the temple, the stage outside the temple showing lively opera over 6 consecutive days, and the parade during the actual day attracting thousands of people.
Besides celebrations, Tian Fu Gong also offers regular services for devotees, such as medium services on the 1st and 15th each lunar month. The current medium, Mr Ng Kit Siong, is 80 years old, fulfilling his duty at Tian Fu Gong for over 30 years. He is very kind and willing to help devotees during non-service days or even at night. Be it praying for safety, curing diseases, choosing auspicious date and time, or consecrating deity statues, Huat Choo Gong is responsive and effective, drawing devotees from near and far to visit. Nonagenarian Ong Sa Mui continually prays at Tian Fu Gong for over 50 years, even when her legs are weak and requiring aid from her son, she mutters sincere prayers while lighting incense. Being blessed by the deity, some devotees volunteer at the temple in return. Aunty Foo Kim Hiok volunteers regularly at the temples of Huat Choo Gong and his sworn brothers, riding the bus from Sekinchan to Kuala Selangor, notwithstanding the toil and exertion for over 20 years.
Tian Fu Gong is famous in the coastal area, with the prominent Huat Choo Gong who saves people from harm. Before the 20th century, Kuala Selangor was the only commercial port in mid-Malaysia, popular with locals and overseas businessmen, Tian Fu Gong is located beside the busy street, witnessing prosperity together. To date, the prosperous street died down into two rows of shabby shophouses, whereas Tian Fu Gong still flourishes with an abundance of devotees.
Text: Daniel Lim & Pua Hui Wen
有你 UNI Production
Producer : Mok Yii Chek
Coordinator : Daniel Lim
Cinematographer : Amelia Lim / Evon Pang
Drone : Daniel Lim
Video Editor : Michael Lerk
Production Assistant : Michael Lerk
Music : Dyathon – Rose from YouTube
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