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One-stop centre for home temples?

The New Paper | Chai Hung Yin | Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

UNDER ONE ROOF: Taoist Federation Singapore chairman Tan Thiam Lye mooted the idea of temple hubs.

SINGAPORE - Many mediums from home temples yearn for a place where they can worship openly, free from complaints.

And a temple hub seems like a potential answer to their problems.

Taoist Federation Singapore chairman Tan Thiam Lye estimates there are about 1,000 temples operating out of residential units, such as HDB flats.

But using flats for public worship is strictly prohibited, while private homes cannot be used without planning permission.

Home temples were thrust into the spotlight after a medium drowned off Changi Beach Park while performing a water ritual last Sunday. His temple in Hougang operated out of a HDB flat.

But these mediums do not have much options due to lack of funds and space, Mr Tan says.

"Many of these temples date back to the kampung days. When they were evicted from their villages into flats, they brought along their deities," he tells The New Paper on Sunday in Mandarin.

But quite a few of them do not have enough funds to build a proper temple. So they continue to maintain and care for the deities at home, setting up a shrine for worship.

He says: "Many of these temples have been asking for land to build a temple since the 1970s. Some of them have waited for more than 30 years."

Mr Tan is also the chairman of San Qing Gong Temple in Bedok and the Hougang Tao Mu Temple, just two of several other appointments.

Many of these home temples serve a certain community, says Mr Tan, and its followers will congregate during the deities' anniversary celebration.

"When they celebrate the deities' birthdays, the mediums will rent a space nearby to hold the celebration since they cannot hold it in their homes. There's not enough space to do so."

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