The birth of Seck Kia Eenh Melaka 马六甲

A humble beginning…

The year was 1920.

The bond of friendship and a desire to follow the Teachings of Lord Buddha brought together a small group of religious minded Straits-Born Chinese in Malacca. (Now, Melaka) Little did they know that their pious act of gathering regularly around a small bronze Buddha image would eventually grow into a reputable Buddhist Association in Malaysia and some parts of the world.

The small bronze image that started it all.

The Buddha image in the main shrine hall to today was presented by Venerable P. Ratanatissa who personally brought it from Ragoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar) in 1922 by train. On arrival, the image was brought in a procession around Malacca town.

The bronze Buddha image which depicts our holy Master in the “Asking the Earth to Witness” posture had witnessed the development of the Seck Kia Eenh since its very infant stage.

Religious activities were earlier held in the Geok Siow Kong Temple, in Tranquerah, where the image was first housed by the kind consent of its trustees.

Later, the Buddha image was moved to the Kwan Imm Tong Temple in Jonker Street (now, Jonker Walk).

Hence, without a premise of their own, the Buddha image that sits serenely in the Main Shrine hall today had to be placed in 2 different Chinese temples for about 19 years. On March 1940, the Seck Kia Eenh Management purchased a piece of land with an old wooden bungalow at 57 Gajah Berang Road from a Chettier for Ringgit Malaysia Three Thousands.

It was in this small wooden bungalow that regular New Moon and Full Moon prayers and marriages ceremonies were performed for another 16 years before a new temple was constructed.

To cope with the increasing bumber of devotees, a Building Fund Sub-Committee was set up on 1st July 1950, to raise funds for the construction of a new temple.

Since the straits-born Chinese who came from prominent families founded it, the temple was popularly known as ‘Datuk Peranakan’ or ‘Datuk Orang Kaya’. It was also known as “Ju Lye Hood” because the main focus of the temple is on the Buddha image. The name Seck Kia Eenh means Lord Buddha’s Monastery. In 1953, the name “Malacca Buddhist Association” was added to the temple’s name to enlighten the general public on the aims and aspirations of the Temple.

The Seck Kia  Eenh cost about Ringgit Malaysia Thirty Thousands upon its completion in 1956.

Much of the funds needed for the growth of Seck Kia Eenh was raised through numerous concerts and projects organized from time to time.

The first fund raising concert in aid of the Seck Kia Eenh building fund, “Sapu Tangan Yang Puteh” was held on 16th October 1955. Many other such concerts followed and some were places as far as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Penang. The list of donors towards the building fund began with Mr. Toh Seng Watt (RM4,000), Mr. Tan Hoon Siang (RM2,400), Mr. Chan Swee Lee (RM2,000), Messrs Chee Swee Cheng Co. Ltd (RM2,000), … … … Mr. Soon Kim Bock (RM1,000), Mr. Tan Soo Ghi  (RM550), Mr. Ong Hin Tiang and …. . It was a year or two back that I realized that my grandfather, Kim Bock is on the list.

Reminiscences of an eventful era … …

At that point of time, the temple was experiencing a strong increase in the number of youths and social activities. In 1957, a Function Hall named Buddha Jayanti Hall was constructed, again, through the funds raised by the Malacca Chinese Dramatic Association, whose leaders and members comprised of many who were associated with the Temple. Many fund raising concerts and plays were held. It is heartening to note that the temple received very intimate support from other organizations and dignitaries of all races in many of its fund raising projects.

The Buddha Jayanti Hall was a small multi-purpose hall with a stage. It was in this hall that many mini concets, plays, talent show, hymn singing competitions, social activities, Dhamma talks, educational lectures, etc. were held. As a matter of fact, this small, low-budget hall, with only wire mesh as its side walls played a very significant role in the development of Arts and Culture among the youths. It was here where talents and leaderships qualities were developed.

It was demolished on 27th October 1990 to make way for the construction of the new four-storey block, with the concert stage as the ground floor. The last Buddhist Drama entitled King Half Penny was performed in this hall prior to its demolition.

The Wesak Blossoms directed by Venerable Ananda Mangala held on 7th May 1967 in Pay Fong Middle School Hall, under the distinguished patronage of the late Tun V.T Sambanthan (the then Minister of Post, Works and Telecommunications of Malaysia), and Ungku Mohsein bin Abdul Kadir (Assistant Minister of Youths, Culture and Sports of Malaysia).

In the 1970’s, the Dhamma School that provided free Buddhist Education experienced extra ordinary growth due the dynamic influence and leadership of Venerable Piyasilo, who was the Resident Monk then.

The Venerable developed a most comprehensive Dhamma school syllabus (The Integrated Syllabus) that is still used in many Dhamma schools throughout the country. A new 3-storey block building was proposed but the temple only managed to build the ground floor due to insufficient funds. The SKE Kindergarten was also established in this building in 1979. This 3-storey block was completed in the early 1980’s.

Come and witness the grand procession this coming Saturday 5 May 2012. Check in early to avoid disappointment and stay overnight to catch up with the Sunday prayers.

One recommended site to witness the procession is at Jalan Thamby Abdullah, Melaka.

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