Devotees flock to Pulau Ubin for Tua Pek Kong's birthday
Rustic Pulau Ubin came to life on Friday (May 20) as islanders prepared for a birthday celebration.
Rainbow-coloured flags and bright red lanterns adorning the jetty swayed in the wind, as the sounds of cymbals and drumbeats filled the air.
They signalled the start of an annual six-day celebration in honour of the deity Tua Pek Kong's birthday.
This year, the Tua Pek Kong Festival - which started on Friday - will run until next Wednesday (May 25).
(Above) Workers moving giant joss sticks behind the altar. TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
RITUAL: (Above) Temple helpers offering incense, food and flowers to Tua Pek Kong. TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
Today (May 21) - which coincides with Vesak Day - is the highlight as it is the actual birthday.
The first event on Friday (May 20) morning saw temple staff carrying in statues of Tua Pek Kong, Hu Ye (a tiger guardian spirit) and Tu Di Gong (God of the Earth) from their respective enclaves up a hill.
A Tua Pek Kong statue was also ferried across from the Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple on the mainland. A ritual was carried out as volunteers carried offerings while chanting.
In Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple's kitchen, volunteer Soh Mui Wan, 50, who makes dimsum freelance, was busy preparing meals.
Scrumptious dishes, ranging from noodles to curry, were on display.
"We cooked these for the devotees who came today. The food and drinks are free," Madam Soh said.
When asked why she has volunteered every year since 2005, she said: "I believe Tua Pek Kong has showered plenty of blessings on me.
"I married a good husband, who is very hard-working and takes good care of me.
"My husband also wins the 4D lottery at least twice every year. In one recent year, he had won the first prize, with a $20,000 payout."
(Above) Devotees Soh Mui Wan (left), and her mother, Ms Ong Mui Huey, 74, preparing food for the festival. TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
Tua Pek Kong is also known as a deity of wealth.
"Many worshippers of Tua Pek Kong have won the 4D lottery," Madam Soh claimed.
Madam Ong Siu Hong, 73, a Pulau Ubin resident and caretaker of the Wei Tuo Fa Gong temple, has seen it all.
She has been visiting the Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple for the celebration every year since she was in her 20s.
And every time, she brings offerings such as a roast duck and chicken, and various fruits.
"I have worshipped this deity since I was young.
"I always pray for peace," she said.
The temple's committee secretary Doreen Lim, who is in her 50s, said: "Every year, there are about 2,000 to 3,000 devotees who flock to Pulau Ubin to celebrate this festival."
The 147-year-old temple oversees and hosts the celebrations every year.
Boat rides to Pulau Ubin are free from 6.30pm to 10.30pm for the duration of the festival.
Tua Pek Kong Festival
- Teochew Opera (every day until Tuesday)
- Crossing the "Ping An" bridge (Today)
- Getai (Wednesday)