Yesterday, while visiting Santa Cruz church not far from it was a Chinese Shrine of Guan Yin and a Thai Buddhist Temple. For hundreds of years, places of worship of different faiths and religions have stood next to each other in perfect harmony forming the diverse country we are today. All linked together by the Chaophraya river and the trade that florished along its banks.
As I entered the Chinese Shrine of Guan Yin or the Goddess of Mercy, I felt a peaceful calm come over me. It was a small space, yet the 200 year old wooden structure built during the Reign of King Rama III by the Chinese Community had an aura of grandness.
Encompassing the virtues of love, kindness, compassion and forgivness, the Goddess of mercy is apparently the patron saint of the sick and destitute as well as protector of sailors and fisherman. It’s no wonder the Shrine was built along the Chaophraya river amongsts the ancient fishing village.
The wooden beams with which the Shrine was built is surrounded by wooden carvings that once must have been carved with great care depicting the virtues of the goddess and painted in various colours to show off all that it has to offer. Lotus shaped carvings hang from the ceilings whose shape is replicated in the oil lamps that stand below. Sadly, the wooden beams are now devoid of colour exposed to the powers of nature. The only colours that remain are ones that radiate from the blue ceramic or tiles that decorate the shrine.
Inside, yellow and red lanterns greet you with chinese characters. I suppose they are words of wisdom.
All is peaceful and quiet inside the shrine as devotees take turns praying. The stillness is intermittently disturbed by the ringing of the ancient bell as devotees make their entrance heard.
On the side, an iron grate separates the shrine from the neighbour’s garden which stands like a hidden oasis. The trees and plants there seem to sway along with the wind and beam up towards the hot sun. Nature is loved here. A little water feature is music to the ears. It cools you down both physically and mentally.
I hope this shrine lasts for generations to come. It would be a shame to let such a small beauty erode away with the sun and water.