Lunar Lights at Thean Hou Temple

08 February 2017

An estimated 500,000 tourists set foot in the Thean Hou Temple each year. On Chinese New Year, locals make their way up for their yearly dose of blessing and prosperity. We take a glimpse into the temple grounds and the activities held within it. 

On the eve of Chinese New Year, cars line up along the winding road leading to Thean Hou Temple. Situated atop the verdant Robson Heights, Kuala Lumpur, the six-tiered temple is a commemoration to the sea goddess Mazu and a sanctuary for annual spiritual pilgrimages.

As one steps past the gargantuan entrance of Thean Hou Temple, one will realise that there is nothing subdued about the space. Bright red pillars adorn each building, and intricate stone and marble carvings reflect the opulence of traditional Chinese architecture. From each individual tile to decorated shrine, the temple is a kaleidoscope of bold, rich and contrasting colours.

Standing at the top floor, you’d get both the view of Kuala Lumpur’s eclectic skyline and a close-up of the Goddess of Thean Hou. On her right stands the Goddess of Waterfront and on her left, the Goddess of Mercy looks over the temple grounds.

Thean Hou Temple was officially opened in 1989 and is managed by Malaysia's Hainanese community who descended from sea-faring fisherfolk from the island of Hainan, China. Being at the mercy of Hainan’s torrential weather, these fishermen would pray at their temples before setting out to sea.

In Malaysia, the temple is a symbol of blessing and wealth, and those who seek for abundance and prosperity would make their way to the temple grounds and pay homage to the gods.

Thean Hou Temple holds many cultural festivals such as the Lunar Festival, birthdays, weddings, worship ceremonies, and of course, Chinese New Year.

This year, to usher in the Year of the Rooster, the temple used the ancient Chinese ‘paper-cutting’ art to adorn the space, reflecting the 2,000-year-old cultural heritage of the Chinese 24 solar system.


At night, the temple lights up into a warm and beautiful hue of red and orange. Throughout the 15 day-long Chinese New Year, crowds will gather for various temple activities, such as lion dance, performances, calligraphy contests and fireworks – the definitive sights and sounds that will mark the start of a joyous lunar year.  

Address: Thean Hou Temple 65 Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur (03 2274 7088).                                    

Photos by Wong Yok Teng
Video by Teoh Eng Hooi

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