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Tai Hong Kong Shrine – A Fertile Ground for Seeds of Philanthropy

Tai Hong Kong Shrine – A Fertile Ground for Seeds of Philanthropy

Tai Hong Kong Shrine
Poh Teck Tung Foundation
(A Fertile Ground for Seeds of Philanthropy)

 

 

 

The Tai Hong Kong

Shrine, maintained by the Poh Teck Tung
Foundation, is located at 326 Chokamrop
Road, Pomprab Satrupai
, Bangkok, Thailand. It enshrines an effigy of Tai Hong Kong within.

 

Tai Hong Kong was a highly respected Chinese monk who lived during the Song Dynasty, over a millennium ago. He was renowned for his boundless empathy, and selflessness.

The Tai Hong Kong shrine, is a spiritual port-of-call for the Thai people, particularly those of Chinese descent. The inherited faith of Tai Hong Kong was believed to have sprung forth from here, flowing through generations of Thai communities. Thai people believe that paying homage to Luang Pu Tai Hong

, will help to reverse poor fortunes, and bolster your chances against impending calamity.

 

Biography of Luang Pu Tai Hong or Tai Hong Kong

 

Tai Hong Kong, appears in the annals and records of the Chaoyang district, of Chaozhou city, Guangdong province, in the People’s Republic of China.

He was born in 1039 (B.E. 1582) in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, China. Hailing from the Lim

(林) clan, his birth name was Ling Err
. He came from a rich family and received a thorough Buddhist as well as secular education.

 

Tai Hong Kong was a graduate of Jin Zhue

(進士), and an advanced scholar of the Imperial Examinations, leading him to be appointed as a Provincial Governor. Not long after assuming his post, however, he found himself deeply disillusioned by the rampant corruption of the state. Unwilling to fall in line with the dead-end bureaucracy, he deserted his post, choosing to ordain as a monk instead. He spent the rest of his life pursuing and spreading the Dhamma.

 

In 1120, when he was 81 years old, he made a pilgrimage to the area of the present-day He Ping village in Chaozhou city, Guangdong province. While there, he witnessed countless people suffering from the endless cycle of storms, floods, fire, drought, and plague-level epidemics.

Arable land was left barren and desolate, as crops perished in swathes. Starvation was rampant. The streets lay littered with unclaimed corpses. The sight struck a chord in Tai Hong Kong, and from his residence in Ling Quan

Temple, he proceeded to set up altars, carrying out to lay the dead to rest before cremating them. He also constantly prayed for mercy from the heavens, hoping to help the people overcome their suffering.

 

He also established a humanitarian mission, setting up free clinics, and providing food and clean water to the destitute, encouraging his followers and disciples to do the same. The people from neighboring villages began to seek out his help too.

Near the temple where he resided, there was a river named Lian Jiang, home to a series of perilous rapids that claimed the lives of nearly everyone who attempted to navigate them. In what was to be his final act of selfless dedication to his community, Tai Hong Kong traveled around raising funds for the construction of the He Ping

Bridge, with the aim of allowing travelers to cross unscathed. He returned to Fujian in 1123 to raise funds, returning with more money and materials in 1127 via a sea route. The journey, however, was too much for him to bear, and he succumbed to exhaustion and old age before he could witness the completion of the bridge.

 

In honor of his self-sacrificial attitude, his community banded together and kicked their efforts into overdrive. Finally, after several tumultuous years, they achieved his vision by completing the He Ping bridge, which still stands today.

His compassionate attitude earned him universal respect from all who knew and met him, and a temple was erected in Chao Yang in his memory. His story and principles spread to over 300 places in China, and he was widely considered to be the inspiration for Shan Tang

(or charity houses), which function as temples, medical treatment halls, and providers of food and funeral rites to the impoverished.

 

The painting simulates Tai Hong Kong’s biography

 

Tai Hong Kong was a monk of immense virtue, a true practitioner of the teachings of the Dhamma, and an active social worker. His impeccable character and conduct have continued to inspire Poh Teck Tung Foundation’s charitable work till today.

This includes the collection and cremation of corpses of the poor, and those without known relatives, the distribution of medicines to the poor, and the construction of infrastructure such as roads and bridges in aid of underserved communities. Tai Hong Kong’s dedication to charity and social welfare has been well and truly impressed upon the heart of all his Chinese devotees.

 

The story of Tai Hong Kong Shrine and Poh Teck Tung Foundation

 

The Tai Hong Kong Shrine in Thailand was built in the traditional southern Chinese style, between 1909 – 1918, by the “Tai Hong Kong Committee for Corpse Collection” which was established to undertake the collection and funeral arrangements of the unclaimed remains of poor people residing in Bangkok in the early 20th century. The Committee later changed its name and is presently known as “Hwa Kiaw Poh Teck Tung

Foundation” or “Poh Teck Tung” in short. The Foundation is managed by the Committee.

 

The first committee, led by Mr. Yee Kor Hong

or Phra Anuwatrachaniyom
, founder of the “Thechavanich
” family, and 12 founding associates, decided to build a permanent office building and shrine on the same site at 326 Chaokamrop Road, Pomprab Sattruphai, Bangkok on 1 July 1909. The original plot of land was 3 ngan
66 square wah
(one ngan is a unit of area equal to a quarter of a rai or 400 square meters). When the Shrine was completed, a small effigy depicting Tai Hong Kong brought from China by Mr. Bae Yoon, a successful businessman, was permanently installed there for public worship.

 

In 1952, after decades of operation, the shrines were fully restored to their original splendour. While the restoration of the shrines involved significant modifications to the existing architectural structures, it also introduced clean, orderly and beautiful surroundings. These improvements befitted the evolving social welfare works of the Foundation, which were expected to expand in aid of wider society one day. The expansion of their social welfare efforts were shadowed by the immeasurable grace of King Rama VIl (otherwise known as Vajiravudh

) who provided the Tai Hong Kong Mortuary with 2,000 baht annually to continue providing funeral rites for unclaimed corpses.

 

The renovation of the Shrine was completed in 1954, and this was followed by 7 days and 7 night of festivities, including distribution of food to the needy and destitute. The celebration was a heady mixture of both Thai and Chinese culture.

In 1955, the Foundation marked another important milestone, with the casting of a new statue of Tai Hong Kong to replace the original, wooden version, which by that point was believed to be over a 100 years old. The new statue was housed in the Shrine, for devotees to offer worship and prayers.

On the 100th Anniversary of the Poh Teck Tung Foundation in 2010, another series of renovations were planned for the exterior of the Shrine and the surroundings. The unique Chinese architecture would be maintained, while repair work and further decoration would be carried out to improve the site, and mark this auspicious occasion. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn

graciously presided over the Centennial Celebration of the Poh Teck Tung Foundation on 27 October 2010.

 

How to pay respect to Tai Hong Kong at the Shrine

Place two candles in a candleholder, and retrieve 6 joss sticks. Position them in the joss stick pot as follows: place 3 in the pot for the Sky and Earth Gods, and 3 in the pot for Tai Hong Kong.

Tai Hong Kong’s statue at Tai Hong Kong Shrine

 

Donations

Within the Shrine hall is a donation room, where donations may be made in the form of cash, coffins and white clothes for the dead, or medical supplies and equipment for rescue operations.

Donations for the poor and disaster victims may be made daily from 06.30 – 2200 hrs. Suggested donations include a wooden coffin for 600 Baht each, funeral shrouds for 50 Baht each, or a set of both. Tombs for adults run 5000 Baht each, and 2500 Baht for children. A 100 kg sack of rice is 1500 Baht, while a 5 kg bag of rice is 70 Baht. Any amounts of money or goods however are welcome.

Should you wish to donate funeral supplies, it is highly recommended that you donate an equivalent amount to the foundation as well. The money will be used to purchase supplies on your behalf, which are tailor-made to their specifications and suitable for their requirements. For donations dedicated to your karmic debtors (it is believed that certain obstacles or troubles that one is facing could be due to spiritual karmic debtors causing troubles), as well as for your dearly departed, you might like to make merit through a donation, accompanied by a silent request to transfer these merits to whomever you choose.

For donations of supplies to the needy and the poor, you can donate either in cash or in the form of food and other basic necessities.

In addition to donations at the Foundation’s premises, contributions may also be made online, at www.pohtecktung.org, or by transferring your cash to any of the below-saving accounts under the account’s name of Poh Teck Tung Foundation (refer to Foundation brochure in Footnotes);

– Bank of Krung Thai, Rajawong- B Branch,
account number: 004-1-00811-1

– Bangkok Bank Limited, Plabplachai Branch,
account number: 001-0-00370-5

– Bank of Ayuthaya, Sam Yak Branch,
account number: 046-1-00810-9

– Kasikorn Bank, Suapa Branch,
account number: 027-2-07939-0

– Siam Commercial Bank, Chidlom Branch,
account number: 001-4-99194-2

– Thai Military Bank, Talad Noi Branch,
account number: 027-2-01540-5

– ThanaChart Bank, Suan Mali Branch,
account number: 789-2-01281-7

 

Common Festivals at the Poh Teck Tung Foundation

1. Chinese New Year Festival – People come to pray and make merits, seeking prosperity for the coming year. They will eat the “sweet sago soup”, pick up the “Hu”

(Chinese talisman), and leave with Chinese biscuits which have all been blessed by monks during religious ceremonies to mark the Chinese New Year.

 

See Also

2. Ting Kajart

Festival (Distribution of food supplies to the needy and the poor)- This festival is meant to offer prayers and dedicate merit to all the vagrant souls of the world, and feed the left so that they might escape a similar fate. It is held in the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

 

3. Vegetarian Festival – Devotees purify their minds by praying and dedicating themselves to accumulating merit during the festival. They will also show their kindness to all living creatures, avoid eating meat, perform nothing but good deeds and refrain from all bad deeds. This festival falls in the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

 

Tai Hong Kong Commemorative Amulets by Poh Teck Tung Foundation

The Poh Teck Tung Foundation has also created several versions of Tai Hong Kong amulets, to mark important occasions and provide benefactors of the Foundation with a keepsake for their contributions. Here are some of them:

Rian Tai Hong Kong Zhou Shue (Roon Raek)

Rian Tai Hong Kong Zhou Shue (Roon Raek), were estimated to have been made in 1937 (B.E. 2480) to commemorate the occasion of the establishment of the “Hwa Kiaw Pho Teck Tung Foundation” or “Pho Teck Tung” on January 20, 1937. These amulets were consecrated under both Chinese and Thai ceremonies. They were then freely distributed amongst both Thai and Chinese benefactors of the Foundation.

These coin amulets were made of copper, and fashioned in the shape of a Chinese peach, a fruit that many Chinese considered to be from heaven itself. The top of the coin features a clasp, hanging from a chain. Each coin was approximately 2.5 cm high and 2.0 cm wide.

In front of the coin has a picture of Luang Pu Tai Hong Kong that is a half body, wearing the robe and the cap in a Chinese monk style. There is a circle like a halo behind his head.

The back of the amulet features a “Kanok” pattern flanking both sides. In the middle, are the 5 Chinese characters “Song Tai Hong Zhou Shue”, referring to Luang Pu Tai Hong Kong, the Foundation’s Patriarch.

This Rian Tai Hong Kong Zhou Shue (Roon Raek) is said to provide outstanding protection from harm.

 

Roop Lor Tai Hong Kong Zhou Shue (Roon Raek)

To mark the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Poh Teck Tung Foundation, falling between 1-15 June 1950 (B.E. 2493), these Roop Lor Tai Hong Kong Zhou Shue were made, resembling a 1.4cm-tall miniaturized replica of the Tai Hong Kong statue enshrined in the Foundation’s premises.

These amulets were made of brass, and depicted Tai Hong Kong in meditation, wearing the robes and cap of a Chinese monk.

 

100,000 pieces of these were made, in 2 variants. The first type emits a metallic “kring-ing” sound when shaken. 50,000 of these were made. The other 50,000 were made without the metallic ball within.

These amulets were consecrated under ceremonies led by both the Theravada and Mahayana branches of Buddhism, led by The Patriarch Yuu of Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan, who presided over the ceremony. In addition, 108 Geji Ajarn from all over Thailand were invited to participate in the ceremony. Following this, they were further consecrated by 108 different masters, in the Chinese tradition. The massive scale and complexity of the ceremony were considered to be a wonder of the era.

These sacred objects are believed to support devotees in every aspect of their lives, enhancing and blessing them with health, wealth, luck, and a litany of other good tidings brought forth from the heavens themselves.

Yant Tai Hong Kong or Hu

Yant Tai Hong Kong, or Hu, is a talisman that the Poh Teck Tung Foundation freely distributes among devotees who visit their shrines to contribute and pay respects. Each and every talisman has been personally consecrated by a Chinese monk. These consist of small pieces of red paper banners, which help rid your home of evil and bad luck.

 

The general practice is to stick the talisman at the threshold of your home or place of business. Some people may choose to carry these talismans in their pockets instead.

Chinese people, especially those of Thai origin, have a very strong belief in the cleansing powers of the Hu, believing them to be capable of riding a space of all misfortune, bad energies, and spirits. Nearly all houses feature one or more of these talismans, displayed in a prominent position. They are also commonly affixed to cars. These talismans are usually renewed once a year.

Throughout history, belief in Luang Pu Tai Hong Kong has remained steadfast, never diminishing across the ages. This is immediately apparent even in the present-day, where is gathering to make offerings to him is a common weekend activity for both Thai-Chinese families, as well as visitors from abroad.

Luang Pu Tai Hong (Tai Hong Kong) and Tai Hong Kong Shrine at the Poh Tek Tung Foundation continue to be a sacred space for the communities it serves, serving as a spiritual anchoring point for their lives. And it will likely continue to remain so, for another 100 years or more.

Footnote:
Brochure from the Tai Hong Kong Shrine, Poh Teck Tung Foundation, at 326 Chokamrop Road, Pomprab Satrupai, Bangkok, Thailand.

 

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