Penang’s Hainan Temple, also known as Thean Hou Kong Temple, is located on Muntri Street in George Town on the island of Penang.
Thean Hou Kong Temple was funded and built by a group of Chinese immigrants from Hainan Island who dedicated the temple to the Taoist Deity Mazu (also referred to Ma Chor Po) who is believed to be the protector of seafarers. Immigrants who survived the long sea crossing from Hainan Island would come to the temple to give thanks to Mazu for keeping them safe on their journey.
About Thean Hou Kong Temple
Tha Hainanese community in George Town first established a temple to the Goddess Mazu in 1866. Thean Hou Kong Temple then moved to its current location on Muntri Street in 1895 funded by donations collected from the faithful over a period of nearly 30 years.
The significance of the temple to the local Hainanese community grew steadily over the next 30 year period and in 1925 a clan association called the Penang Kheng Chew Hooi Kuan Clan Association was formed with the temple as its headquarters. The name Kheng Chew Hooi is a reference to the village on Hainan Island from where the temple’s founders originated. The name of the association changed in 1991 to the Hainan Clan Association as the outlook of the group changed to broaden the membership of the group to all residents of Penang who can trace their ancestry back to Hainan.
Like other clan associations the Penang Kheng Chew Hooi Kuan Clan Association has undertaken a range of charitable activities to assist members of their community. The most noteworthy of these projects was the establishment of the Aik Hua School in 1955 which was constructed on a plot of land next to the Hainan Temple. The clan association has also set up scholarships, established a hospital and came together with other clan associations in Penang to build the Penang Chinese Conference Hall.
The temple itself is free to visit. The four most interesting features to look out for are:
- The elaborate stone carvings on the front of the building which were created by craftsman brought over from China in 1995 to mark the centenary of the temple’s construction.
- The central shrine to the Goddess Mazu.
- The shrine to the left dedicated to the Goddess of the Waterfront, Shui Wei.
- The shrine to the right dedicated to the 108 Brothers, who in Hainanese folklore were killed by pirates whilst trying trying to reach Vietnam to start a new life there.
Location of Thean Hou Kong Temple
- Penang’s Hainan Temple is located at Lebuh Muntri, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.