Being the hospitable host that she is, PW managed to arrange it into my ‘itinerary’- a visit to the Nine Emperor Gods Temple at Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth. As we drove under the grand and intricately carved arch to the temple grounds proper, I gaped, this place is wow !
View from the arch
According to the leaflet from the temple- the Nine Emperor Gods Temple of Butterworth began as an attap shed on a rented plot of land in 197. In 1994, the temple committee decided to rebuild a new temple, construction started in 1996 and on 26th April 2000, the temple with a total land area of 40,000 sq feet, was officially completed at a cost of RM7 million
Generals guarding the Front Prayer Hall
The Front Prayer Hall
Again I gaped , the altar was rich, golden, intricate and spectacular.
Getting a bit closer to the altar – at the centre is the Dou Mu , 斗母, and below her are the Nine Emperor Gods.
From this link , click here , it mentioned that ‘The Nine Emperor Gods are very often known as “Bei Dou Jiu Xing 北斗九星” (9 North Star Plough Gods), since they are Gods of the stars or planets. Their mother, “Dou Mu Yuan Jun 斗母元君” (Mother North Star), is also the Mother of Stars.
And I learn that 北斗 is in fact Big Dipper (ursa major) , wow – the Nine Emperors are the stars making up the Big Dipper . Cool or not ??
There are only 7 stars making up Big Dipper , you can have a look at ursa major by clicking here , ( not 9) legend has it that there used to be 9 stars (北斗九星) but 2 had since faded , it’s now ‘7 seen and 2 unseen’ and it’s also said that those that can see the 2 unseen stars will lead a long life.
The Nine Emperor Gods consist of the following:
1. “Gou Chen Tian Huang Da Di 勾陈天皇大帝” (Vega Star)
2. “Bei Ji Zhi Wei Da Di 北极紫微大帝” (Polaris Star)
3. The 7 Northern Constellation Stars (called “Bei Dou Qi Xing 北斗七星”):
a. “Tan Lang 贪狼”
b. “Ju Meng 巨门”
c. “Lu Chun 禄存”
d. “Wen Qu 文曲”
e. “Lian Zhen 廉贞”
f. “Wu Qu 武曲”
g. “Po Jun 破军”
The origin of the Nine Emperor Gods can be traced back to the Taoist worship of the Northern constellation during Qin and Han Dynasty (北斗崇祀). Actually, the observation and worshipping of stars had already been present among the public before Taoism was founded during Han Dynasty.
As Taoism was developed during Han Dynasty, it began to absorb this practice of worshipping the stars and began to deitify them as Gods.
On the left of the main altar is an altar for the Monkey God and on the right Na Char
Sacred Prayer Room
From the Front Prayer Hall, we walked to the second part of the temple , which is locked. This is the Sacred Prayer Room, which according to the official website , click here :- this houses the Urn of the Nine Emperor Gods and only temple members selected by the Gods are allowed to enter the Hall. During the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the urn is taken to the sea to welcome the Gods back to the temple.
The Inner Courtyard
There are 2 main attractions at the courtyard, one of them was the painting of the 100 children . This signifies the continuity of generation. The children are seen carrying gold bullions, doing the lion and dragon dance, carrying big peach ( longevity), skipping, doing acrobatics , having a picnic …..are there really 100 children in this painting ? well..you count and tell me lahh
The other attraction was the huge stone carved dragons , spewing water into a pond below. There are 9 dragons in all and you can make a wish or two and throw coins into the fountain . Picture below show part of the carved dragon and the next prayer hall- the Dou Mu Prayer Hall.
The inner courtyard is rather picturesque
Dou Mu Prayer Hall
Dou Mu Niang Niang seen here sitting serenely in the deepest and most revered place of the temple
Dou Mu Niang Niang up close
Offerings : these cone shaped ‘structures’ are made up of beans/peas, green peas, red bean, grains of rice etc. Pretty hoorr ?
More offerings : cologne and face powder, I am not too sure what these signifies, but PW thinks that these are offerings made by ladies who are seeking Dou Mu’s help to find their other half.
Dou Mu Niang Niang is flanked by 2 other deities Deity Lam Sin南辰星君 and Deity Pak Tao 北斗星君
And if you looked up, you will see this on the ceiling
Tracing our way back to the Front Prayer Hall, I was attracted by these lively door gods
Looking out from the Hall to the arch
The arch served as the main entrance to the temple, according to the leaflet from the temple , the cost of the arch is RM1.5 million and is completed in 2008. Isn’t it magnificent ?
If you happen to be in / planning to visit Butterworth , this temple is well worth a visit ! The place will be beautifully lit up at night, you might have a different perspective of the templeLocation : Rumah Berhala Too Boo Kong Too Boo Kong Temple Butterworth 北海斗母宮 Lot 894 & 896, Mukim 14, Jalan Raja Uda, 12300 Butterworth , Penang. Tel : 04-3318717 www.towbookong.org.my