Valentine’s Day is looming – and whether you love it or loathe it, it’s here to stay. Are you single and looking for love? If online dating or friendly matchmaking isn’t working, you may just be able to pray for love… in Raffles Place.
The Love Temple
It may not be the most romantic location in Singapore, but Yueh Hai Ching Temple was here since the 19th century. Built in 1826, the “Love Temple” – also known as Wak Hai Ching Bio in the Teochew dialect – is the oldest Teochew temple on our island. However, it wasn’t always a temple for love; the temple was originally built for Teochew immigrants to thank Mazu (Goddess of the Sea) for safe passage to Singapore. Over time, it became a beacon of hope for lovelorn pilgrims.
Today, hopeful singles come here to ask Yue Lao, the deity of love and marriage, to bless them with a partner.
The temple has 2 halls – the left is occupied by Tian Hou Gong where devotees pray to Mazu, and the right by Shang Di Gong, which represents Xuan Tian Shang (Heavenly Father). The idol of Yue Lao is in the right hall – easily identified by the number of red strings tied around his neck by hopeful singles. In Chinese mythology, Yue Lao is said to appear at night under the moon as he unites all predestined couples with a red string.
If you too want the help of Yue Lao, simply get a red string from the temple and mutter a little prayer before hanging it around his neck. You will also need to offer $12 in ang bao afterwards – the money will go towards the temple’s maintenance. Mooncakes are also appreciated.
Since you are already here, why not ‘gram this intricately ornamented building? It underwent a $7.5 million restoration and earned it a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage award after all. A notable feature is its roof which is decorated with detailed ceramic figurines that depict popular Chinese legends, while the tiger and dragon frescoes adorning the walls of the inner halls have a 3D effect.
Whether or not you’re a believer, you can at least say you’ve participated in something new, with an extra dose of history and culture. You can find Yueh Hai Ching Temple at 30B Philip Street – or check out its Facebook page.