Siong Lim Temple in Singapore
Siong Lim Temple (also: Shuang Lin Temple) is the common Hokkien or Fukien name of the (Lian Shan) Shuang Lin Monastery , pinyin: (Lián Shān) Shuāng Lín sì, literally Twin Grove of the Lotus Mountain Temple. Built in 1902, the Buddhist temple is located in Toa Payoh, Singapore.
The 40,000 square metres site was owned by Low Kim Pong, a wealthy Chinese Hoklo (Hokkien) merchant and devout Buddhist.
When Low Kim Pong was sixty, he had a dream where he saw a golden light rising from the west over the sea (the west being symbolic of Buddhism which originated in India, and is west of China). He took the dream to be an omen, and went to the coast the next day. At dusk, he met an unusual Hokkien family arriving by boat.
The entire family had taken Buddhist vows and were on their way home to Fujian after a pilgrimage to Sri Lanka. Low, moved by their devotion, tried to persuade them to stay in Singapore and spread the faith. He promised to build a temple for their use. The head of that family, Xian Hui, eventually became Siong Lim's first abbot.
The funds used for its construction were raised by Low Kim Pong and Yeo Poon Seng, one of the saw mill pioneers during the period. In 1950s, the temple area was reduced to about 20,000 m² when part of the land was acquired by the Singapore Improvement Trust for public housing. Today, the temple still stands as a landmark amongst residential flats (HDB).
The temple was gazetted a national monument on 17 October 1980, symbolising the social and cultural roots of the early Chinese immigrants.
In spite of being a national monument, Siong Lim was mostly neglected as the government of Singapore tried to westernize. By the 1990s, portions of the temple were in disrepair. Areas were cordoned off as being unsafe. A major renovation was started in 1994 and completed in 2002.
In order to return the temple to its former southern Chinese glory, eighty carpenters, sculptors and artisans were brought in from China to work on the restoration.
The temple was originally modeled after the Xichang temple in Fujian province, but has a uniquely Singaporean style. Singapore was an immigrant society, and although built by Fujian workmen, these original workmen came from different counties in Fujian. As a result, the temple has elements of Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Zhangzhou styles.
The temple now boasts a seven storey gold-topped pagoda which is a replica of the 800 year old Shanfeng temple pagoda in Fujian.