Sunday, 7 March 2010

120 years of the Poh Hock Seah

Here are recent photos of the Poh Hock Seah, the resident temple of the Tua Pek Kong deity, in Armenian Street, George Town. Though the Poh Hock Seah officially celebrates its 120th anniversary this year, its history goes back even longer.

It started out as the influential Kean Teik Tong Hokkien Hoay Kuan on 30 Dec 1844 as a place where Penang's migrant community from China's southern Fukien Province could come together. However, it was also a place linked with Penang's warring clans and in the 19th century, secret societies practically carved out their little kingdoms on the island. When open street warfare erupted in 1867 (the Penang Riots), the Kean Teik Tong allied itself with the Hai San against the Ghee Hin Secret Society. After the Riots were put down, the Straits Settlements government introduced the Societies Ordinance 1889 which effectively banned the Kean Teik Tong and other similar societies.

From the ashes of the Kian Teik Tong arose the Poh Hock Seah in 1890, formed by a council of Straits-born Chinese to continue looking after the interest of the Hokkien community. The Poh Hock Seah was recognised officially on 22 April 1891.

As mentioned above, 2010 is the 120th anniversary of the Poh Hock Seah. No doubt, we should see some elaborate functions to celebrate this occasion, more so during the birthday celebrations of Tua Pek Kong which should fall on 30 Sep 2010.

The main altar on the ground floor of the building

The urn on the upper floor of the Poh Hock Seah

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