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Seng Hong Beow



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A Little History on Seng Hong Beow

Established in 1830, Seng Ong Beow or Temple of the City Protector and Chief Magistrate of Hades, is located at Jalan C Y Choy in George Town, Penang.

"Seng Ong", the Chief Magistrate of Hades is the judge for the after life.  Fortunately for the guilty, the officials of Hades are known to accept opium as bribe. It is believed that the smearing of opium on the tongues of these guards, Tua Pek and Jee Pek (Grand Uncle and Second Uncle), will effectively seal their mouths from disclosing any wrongdoing.

In 2002, some rare ancient Taoist manuscripts were uncovered at Seng Ong Beow by a Chinese academician, Ong Seng Huat. Those manuscripts were said to have been brought from China over a hundred years ago and are believed to be more than 100 years old.

Seng Ong Beow was very influential during its heyday, especially among the Hokkien community.  It was believed that, while there were many temples worshipping the same deity in Georgetown, there could only be one dedicated to Seng Ong, because Seng Ong was the spiritual personification of the town. The site chosen for the temple on the southern part of the Prangin River symbolized the settlement and expansion of the immigrant Hokkiens.

In the good old days, Seng Ong Beow was also known as the "ghost temple" to the local community. This was due to the temple being used to exorcise evil spirits and demons that haunted the mangrove swamp on which the new settlement was established.  It was also where captured demons were kept.  When Seng Ong Beow was constructed, the sea came right up to the front of the temple.  At that time, the temple was not built on solid ground, but on a raised platform that moved up and down with the ebb and flow of the tide.  Hence, the Seng Ong Beow was also called the "floating lotus on a pond".

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