Thai temple in Sitiawan: Pra Buddha Monkolsolos
A Thai temple in Sitiawan? Yes, there's a Thai temple in Sitiawan. It's actually a quite new temple. As all religious non-Muslim buildings it is build with help of the local people. The head monks of this temple is from Thailand.
The temple was several years ago and renovated and expanded in recent years. The location is quite interesting and a manifestation of the tolerance between the different religious cultures in Malaysia. This temple is build next to a Christian church and further on the road a Mosque. In that sense it is typical Malaysia.
When I entered the front gate of the temple it became immediately clear this was not "just" a Thai temple. The Chinese influence in temple building was immediately clear.
Everyone who has been to Thailand can immediately see the difference in style between a Thai temple in Thailand and this one.
Still, the observer may see some stylish differences. Especially the roof is different from the usual Thai temples. Here you can see quite easy the influence of the Chinese.
There is more Chinese influence to be seen in the temple. In front of the first, and much smaller temple there's.
But let's not walk too fast. Let's start at the entrance. I walked into the temple complex. The first I saw was a small temple with a tiger in front. The tiger probably protects the temple. This was one of the first very Chinese examples of influence. It also shows how flexible Buddhism is with adapting influences from other cultures.
I passed the tiger and went into the small temple. Inside there are 3 Buddha's. The mystic smiles made me feel very comfortable. I have been in many different Thai temples and usually I feel very peaceful. This time it was no different.
Main prayer hall
The prayer hall is a large building with two Buddha's above each other. Buddha images are generally found in four positions: a seated position, a standing position, a walking position and a reclining position. In this temple you will find two positions: sitting and reclining
In this temple you find the most common attitude of a seated Buddha. In this attitude the Buddha is seated with the legs crossed, the right hand is on the right knee with the four fingers pointing to the ground.
The left hand rests in the lap. This is also known as the attitude of calling the Goddess of the Earth to witness. This is related to the time when the Lord Buddha was about to attain his enlightenment. He was attacked by Mara (a personification of evil) and his army.
The Lord Buddha summoned the Goddess of the Earth to witness the attack and to save him by pointing the four fingers of the right hand to the ground.
The Goddess of the Earth emerged and saved him by wringing the water of merit from her hair to drown Mara and his army. In this way Mara was subdued. Thus this attitude is known as subduing Mara.
In the main prayer hall you find the reclining Buddha. The reclining Buddha represents the Buddha's passage to Nirvana and the death of his body. In Thai tradition this posture also represents a resting Buddha. It also evokes a story when the Buddha assumed enormous size in order to humble a giant.
Outside the prayer hall you will find a Bodhi tree. The Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. In the garden you will find the Buddha in the meditating attitude at the moment of attaining enlightenment.
In good Thai tradition on both sites he is accompanied by two snakes.
The position of the temple in Sitiawan
This Thai-Chinese temple has a small but very active community. Unfortunately at this moment there are not many novice monks. This however will change. The head monk is active in searching novices.
There is little space at the moment for novices to stay at the temple. Therefore the headmonk (who actually does not speak any English) is trying to raise funds for the temple.
In that perspective you can donate to the temple when you visit the temple.
The easiest way to visit the temple is by your own transport. Take a taxi or (motor)bike to Sitiawan. At the junction with KFC, turn right in the direction Kampong Koh and Teluk Intan. It's a bout 1.5 km from the junction on the right side.