THE OLD TEMPLE AT SIJUK VILLAGE

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay.com

Sijuk is a very old village in Belitung. It had been a town of trade center where a great number of merchants from different places, islands or countries went there to make money long time ago.

It is said that Admiral Cheng Ho of Ming Dynasty had ever cast anchor at the river of Sijuk. It’s undoubtedly that Sijuk Town was quite well known in ancient days.

It’s about 33 kilometers from Tanjung Pandan and is very convenient to go there by car or motorcycle or even bicycle if you like cycling.  The scenery is so beautiful along the way that you can hardly see in a big city.

Whenever you reached the iron bridge, you’ll see an old temple a few meters from the roadside. It is the temple of the Lord of Land and Prosperity and it was built in 1815. However, this ancient temple had been renovated and it doesn’t look like an old temple anymore.

According to the legend, the Lord of Land and Prosperity was a king named Thio Hok Tek. When he ruled his country, he was a very kind hearted king and all the people respected and liked him very much. He lived till the age of 102.

A new king ascended the throne right after the death of Thio Hok Tek. The new king was very cruel and liked to raise taxes. All the people disliked him because they suffered so much and could only live from hand to mouth.

The people missed Thio Hok Tek a lot, so they built a temple and put his statue on the altar for worship. They hoped one day, there would be a generous and kind hearted king like Thio Hok Tek.

The cruel king laughed after knowing what the people did. It was impossible that a dead man could help them out of sufferings and improved the standard of living. Therefore, he dismissed the people who worshipped Thio Hok Tek as dumb bunnies.

The King of Heaven knew that the people loved their late king so much, so that he ordered the Eight Immortals to inform Thio Hok Tek that he was invited to heaven. Later, Thio Hok Tek came to the heaven palace together with the Eight Immortals.

The King of Heaven praised him that he had done his duties perfectly well when he was alive. That was why Thio Hok Tek was promoted to Lord of Land and Prosperity and should go back to the world to help people.

Before Sijuk Temple was renovated, it didn’t have electricity. Only coconut oil lamps were lighted in the temple at night. Nowadays, it is lighted by fluorescent lights and it’s so bright in the evening.

Gardeners and farmers liked to worship Lord of Land and Prosperity. They hope that their crops will grow well all the year round, so that they can live comfortably and have enough money to send their kids to college. Some farmers or gardeners even build a very small worship house at their rice fields or gardens.

The temple yard of Hok Tek temple in Sijuk is quite wide. There’re two worship paper burners which take the shape of a pagoda on the right and left of the temple. Pilgrims usually burn worship papers after they have finished burning joss sticks inside the temple.

Long before the temple was renovated, a man who came home after fishing at the river under the bridge saw an old man sitting in front of the temple at night.

Perhaps the old man was Thio Hok Tek who was willing to help that poor angler out of poverty. What a pity that the poor angler just passed the temple and didn’t come to talk to the mysterious old guy.

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