Kwun Yam Temple 觀音堂
Many people say Tai Ping Shan Street is a testament to a lifespan: you can experience birth, aging, sickness and death in the same street. Tai Ping Shan Street has a hospital, temples, coffin shops and undertakers to service your needs at these different stages of life, making this a unique and important street not just for local residents but for the Hong Kong community as a whole. Indeed many of the religious, medical and charitable establishments in Hong Kong have their roots here in Tai Ping Shan Street.
One into three – Kwan Yam Temple
According to a local folk tale, about two centuries ago, a Mrs. Tang was out fishing one day when she saw a piece of wood floating towards the shore. The wood suddenly stopped right in front of her and she recognised this as a sign from the goddess of the sea to protect the fishermen, so she took the wood to Tai Ping Shan for the fisherman to worship. She put it at the exact location where you can now find the residential block, View Villa, on Pound Lane.
Fishermen came in droves to worship and eventually in 1840 the piece of wood was replaced by a proper temple: the first Kwan Yam temple 觀音廟 on Pound Lane. In later years the temple had to be relocated for housing development and it was rebuilt on Tai Ping Shan Street. However because the site was much smaller than the original one, the temple was split into three smaller ones: Kwan Yam 觀音廟, Water and Moon Kwan Yam 水月觀音廟 and Tai Sui 太歲廟. All three temples are still there today.
1. Kwam Yam Temple
In need of some good fortune? Participate in the ‘Kwan Yam open treasury’. This is an incredibly popular annual event celebrated across Asia on the 26th day of the Chinese New Year 正月二十六, when thousands of people visit Kwan Yam to symbolically ‘borrow’ money from her. As Kwam Yam is the god of mercy, compassion and sympathy, believers hope she will hear their prayers and bring them good fortune in the coming year.
Kwan Yam celebrations are popular all across Asia, but according to Mr Tang -the fifth generation owner of the temple - it all started here in Tai Ping Shan street: ‘It was in the early 19th century that the Tang family was looking for ways to support the poor people living around the temple. One day they received a message through the historical Kwam Yam readings which specified to collect treasures to build a bridge. So they set up the ‘open treasury of Kwam Yam’ to raise funds for community facilities and local schools.’
2. Water & Moon Kwam Yam
The Water and Moon Kwam Yam 水月觀音廟 is opposite from Kwam Yam. Here, people come to worship the so-called 1000 hands Kwam Yam. The temple is particularly well known to visit at the beginning of the lunar new year for wishing good luck to yourself and your family. Here you can turn bad luck into good luck by giving the red fan at the entrance a good spin when you leave the temple.
3. Tai Shui
The tiny temple at # 7 next to Water & Moon is dedicated Tai Shui. Check your Chinese zodiac (see insider secret) to see if a visit to the temple is required.