Yesterday, the few of us visited three temples in Woodlands Industrial park (E8), thanks to the organisation by Patch and Jave. Must say that despite the few hours we were there, we were still literally "watching flowers from the horse". I was late and so managed to catch up a little on this interesting small temple, Tang Seng Dian 东圣殿 (Dong Sheng Dian) that was merged with Qing Shui Miao 清水庙 (Cheng Chwee Beo) before they set up in this new combined temple at Woodlands Industrial Park E8.
Now, if my memory holds, the origin of the Tang Seng Dian was somewhere in an attap hut in Hong Kah Lane. It seems that there could have been a temple during that time, but in the 70s, one group left for Redhill. And this medium has an accident, (I think) as he was a lorry driver, that left him blinded. The residents of that kampung helped to raise funds to buy some statues to help him start a sintua, since that was about all that he could do then. Interestingly, in the process, he regained his eye-sight.
When the place was being served notice by the authorities to move, the sintua was in another state of crisis. This time, the medium had given up on this sintua and went elsewhere to start another sintua. But the li-shi (those residents who helped to run the sintua) were adamant to continue serving the Gods (Tua Li Ya Pek and other Deities) and so, they went to the sintuas and temples in Singapore to raise funds during these temples' grand dinners. For those of you who have witnessed such grand dinners, you may see yellow banners announcing that the temple is supporting the fund raising of certain temples .. and this means that during the dinner, some people would be passing a tin around to get donations from the diners. It might not be much but they perserve. For five years, they went out almost every week to get donations. They achieved about S$400K to put into the the construction of the temple, together with Cheng Chwee Beo.
In another twenty odd years' time, they would have to raise funds again as this temple is on a 30 year lease. Asked about repeating their feat, one of the lishi said that he would leave it to the younger people to carry on. He commented that by then, he might not be around, or even if he is, he will be in his 80s.
The faith, the perserverance, the determination to overcome any obstacles .. these are the untold stories of these people who put in their sweat and tears to continue their belief in the Gods who have looked after them.
This is but a surface story that I gathered in the midst of talking over 15 minutes. I am sure that's more to it. Let's hope we can gather more of such extraordinary stories of ordinary people, the people, who, like a colony of ants, worked tiredlessly to continue to preserve the fabric of the society they know.