the dark citrus sun felt as it were directly on our backs as we walked the streets of Johor Bahru; the sweat glided off our arms and legs and ran down our faces in a sea of salt. soon, we found ourselves in front of The Old Johor Chinese Temple.
the air turned pleasant as we crossed the threshold into the sanctuary, as incense filled our throats and minds.
on the either sides of the altar, our eyes gazed upon various figures. as a diverse Malaysia emerged, 19th century Chinese immigrants of Johor who practiced folklore found they worshipped contrary gods. although culture and dialect was varied, prayers were not. so the Old Johor Chinese Temple was a common sanctuary to worship the five named deities of the region.
the original iron bell installed in the temple still stands adjunct to the chancel, a proud artifact of the bell ringers of today. (and, they love to take photos with red-headed tourists.)
every year at The Annual Chingray, each of the deities is hoisted above the crowds, flacked by paper dragons and fragile red lanterns and crowds in the tens of thousands.
plaques adorning the outer walls of the temple still hang in the accompanying museum, a flickering light reminding us of the passing time, the heritage that makes up the increasingly complex and diverse culture of Malaysia.
as we made our way towards the exit, we stopped to observe the shrines so lovingly adored by their followers. a young couple lit their incense and bowed in fastidious motion toward their respective God. a wave of peace overwhelmed us as we stepped back into the putrid streets.
the heat melted our sky-scraping emotions. alas, fizzy drink stop.
next up: Hindu dreams. Selamat Malam, friends.