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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Datok Gong


Over here in my corner of the world, chances are you would stumble upon little red "houses" wherever you go – in the city, the countryside, your neck of the woods and even on golf courses!

These ubiquitous little red houses are actually shrines and are located by the roadside and usually under a shady tree. The shrines are worshiped by the residents living in the neighbourhood.


Take a peek inside and you would find the statue of a Malay deity, food offerings, joss sticks and a little cup of tea! However, no pork or alcohol is served – only halal offerings!

The deity (Datok Gong) is dressed in a traditional Malay costume with Islamic elements.  Datok means grandfather in Malay and Gong is the Chinese equivalent. Thus, Datok Gong is a fusion of  synonymous Malay and Chinese honorifics. The Datok Gong is a guardian spirit who looks after the peace, health, wealth and well-being of the people on the property/land he is protecting.

In Malaysia, every Malay is Muslim by law, so what is a Malay-Muslim deity doing in a Taoist shrine?!

First, a little history to share.

During the 19th century, Chinese immigrants to the Malay archipelago brought along their culture of worshiping Taoist deities (earth spirits) to these lands. Away from their homeland and in foreign soil, the immigrants sought the protection and help from local guardian spirits.

Back then, before the arrival of Islam, the local Malays also practiced similar guardian spirit (penunggu) worship. Both practices intertwined and a fusion belief was born.


Unlike other Taoist idols, Datok Gong is uniquely dressed in a sarong, wears a  songkok, and brandishes a keris. He is after all, a Malay-Muslim deity!
A Datok Gong idol

42 comments:

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

fascinating history

Lin said...

Interesting! This reminds me of the catholic shrines that you see in their yards--especially in Hispanic or Polish neighborhoods. I used to count the shrines when I would walk during my lunch breaks.

Taken For Granted said...

Fine looking small shrines. I see people leave offerings of food and drink.

betty said...

Very colorful shrines! Interesting to read about them too, Veronica! Have a great week ahead!

betty

Sandee said...

A wonderful history lesson. Thank you.

Have a fabulous day and week. ♥

stevebethere said...

Nice post and history very interesting :-)

Phil Slade said...

Thanks for the information. A number of countries I have visited have these little shrines, all with their own variation I suppose.

Meditations in Motion said...

Thank you for teaching me something I didn't know! Actually several things. I didn't realize every Malaysian must be Muslim by law and I didn't understand what the shrines were for. The fusion of Taoist and Muslim entities is so interesting!

camdandusler said...

İnteresting post 😊

italiafinlandia said...

Very interesting. Nice to know. In Italy we have shrines along the roads too, with Catholic saints.
Happy Tuesday to you!

Tom said...

...I visited a Chinese cemetery last week and many of the graves had food offerings. It was quite different have what I would see back home.

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Mama made a little shrine similar to this when someone very important in her life died. She was from the Philippines. I wonder how much of this tradition her elders modified to fit the Roman Catholic religion that she was brought up in.

Aritha said...

Interesting.

Thelma said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting story. Very interesting.

betty-NZ said...

What a great thing to find along the roadways. And, I appreciate the history, too. Thanks for sharing with us :)

I'm so glad to see you at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

My Corner of the World

Shiju Sugunan said...

Nice little shrine and the deity looks cute!

XmasDolly said...

HELLO MY FRIEND! I don't know much about Muslim faith. Is that Budda those statues and if not who is it supposed to represent. Your little houses & statues are so colorful and beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Now that I am officially disabled as of yesterday. Guess I will be looking for things to do and this might be my first project. I'm not going to give up though. I'm going to keep looking for someone to help me. Blogging will help to say the least. Thank you my friend for sharing your pictures and story! SENDING YOU BIG HUGS

eileeninmd said...

Hello Veronica,

Thanks for sharing the information on these shrines. They are very pretty. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy week ahead!

Cathy Kennedy said...

Veronica,

My jaw nearly hit the floor when I read that in Malaysia Islamic religion is a law not a choice. That's really hard to wrap my brain around. What happens to those who prefer a different spiritual route? Are they persecuted or imprisoned? Other cultures are interesting to learn about. Thank you for sharing some of your country's through photographs, my friend. Have a fototastic day!

Join me today on Curious as a Cathy for WildWednesdays for blog promoters where just about anything goes on! ;)

Sandee said...

Thank you for joining the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Have a fabulous Wordless Wednesday. ♥

Esha M Dutta said...

Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos, Veronica, and adding an interesting bit of history with it too! It sounds fascinating how unique our Asian cultures are and how little we know about the religious beliefs that people follow in these cultures. Look forward to learning more such from you.

Happy #ww and a blessed week ahead to you. :)
Cheers

An Apel a Day said...

I think they are beautiful! I'd love to have shrines throughout my town, here and there.

Memories of Eric and Flynn said...

Those are lovely shrines, and very interesting to read about.
My WW is here:
https://allatseawithme.blogspot.com/2020/02/arctic-circle-cruise-october-2019.html

Debbie D. said...

Thank you for this fascinating history lesson! Your beautiful photos are the perfect accompaniment. Happy #WW!
Debbie @ The Doglady's Den

Heidi R. said...

I see that this protective spirit is sometimes offered very good offerings?

Peabea Scribbles said...

Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading some of your culture. Great photos to share along also. Thanks for visiting me. Have a wonderful rest of the week.

pilch92 said...

Very interesting. I had not heard of these.

Dixie @ Arranged Words said...

I enjoyed the history behind the shrines.
Sending a sprinkling of snow as requested. :)
Enjoy the week!

Linda said...

Interesting post. I like the cheerful Datok Gong idol.

Suzy said...

Than you for the history lesson. I love to learn about other cultures.

Zinaida Strinu said...

Very interesting and very beautiful photos! Thank you from far away Romania!

Have a nice day!

Susan Mann said...

What an amazing shrine. Fascinating and wonderful colours xx

Nancy C said...

So colorful and interesting history.

Jeanna said...

I didn't know any of that, hope I can retain at least some of it because it is colorful and interesting. I'd love to see the red shrines dotting the landscape. It looks like something is being burned next to the top shrine.

Great-Granny Grandma said...

Interesting history. Datok Gong looks vey jovial.
I had no idea that everyone in Malaysia has to be Muslim by law, though. What if that's not your belief system?

yonosoymillenium said...

que post mas bonito, es un lugar con mucho encanto e interés

Mellie said...

How interesting. Thanks for sharing some of your part of the world with us.

Powell River Books said...

Thank you for the information and history. I don't know much about your corner of the world, and now I do. - Margy

Amy Johnson said...

So interesting. TFS!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That is so interesting to learn Veronica. Thank you!

Giancarlo said...

Che questa settimana abbia inizio con gioia e positività.
Buon lunedì

Mascha said...

Very interesting! Wish, the Christians and Muslims could find a way nearer together, they have similiar sources, but it seems difficult in Europe, sigh!