|This is quite a common sight in many places where there is a
shady tree near a junction. The yellow building is actually a shrine
meant for the 'Datuk Gong' deity, regarded by its devotees as the
God of Wealth.
Chinese : 拿督公 Na Tuk Kong (Malay Tua Pek Kong 馬來人大伯公)
Malay : Datuk Keramat
Datuk Gong is a Sino-Malay spirit, also known as Na Tuk Kong
(拿督公) in Chinese, or Datuk Keramat in Malay.
There are also female versions of Datuk Gong, known as Datuk Nenek
or Na-du-nai-nai (拿督奶奶). Nenek is the Malay word for “grandmother”.
When praying to the Datuk Nenek, some of the devotees actually
offered her cologne or gu-long-shui (古龙水) and make-up, reflecting
the Chinese belief in afterlife and the humanistic nature of gods.
Datuk’ is a Malay word while ‘Gong’ (公) is a Chinese honorific title
often used for gods and deities. He is often worshipped for wealth,
peace and harmony. You may also find the Datuk Gong shrines at
factories and offices where it is believed that praying to him
diligently every morning and night ensures the smooth running of the
business. Some Datuk Gong statues are dressed in songkok and sarong
and the shrine is shaped like a typical kampung house with stairs
leading up to the altar. The offerings include incense, fruits like
the banana and pineapple, nasi kunyit (tumeric rice), curry chicken,
cigars, cigarettes, pinang and sireh. Devotees abstain from eating
pork before prayers. Individuals who pray to him ask for lucky
numbers to buy at the lottery draws such as Toto, Magnum 4-D and Big
Sweep. They will also make vows which need to be fulfilled once
their prayers are answered. Those who strike it rich will built a
bigger temple for Datuk Gong. Communication with Datuk Gong can
happen in 3 ways, i.e. (a) through spirit mediums, (b) premonition
or (c) appear in a dream.
This practice is commonly found in Malaysia and Singapore.
Judging by the number Datuk Gong temples I see around here, I'm can
conclude that either (a) there are many who have struck it rich or
(b) they hope to hit the jackpot which is ever increasing and so
tempting to the gamblers.
The religious belief of the Datuk Keramat worship can be found in
Malaysia, Singapore and along the Strait of Malacca. It is a fusion
of pre-Islamic spirit belief, Sufi saint worship and Chinese folk
According to local Malay legend, all Datuks were once human and were
considered the "Forefathers of The Land" and sometimes also known as
the "Spirit of The Land" or Na Tuk Kong (earth spirits), as the
locals would call them.
Around the Malaysian countryside some small, red-coloured painted
shrines by the roadside or under a tree can be found, and these
shrines are usually worshipped by the residents living around the
neighbourhood. The shrines are normally of a fusion Chinese-Malay
design, with Islamic elements such as the crescent moon decorations.
Inside the simple room, a small, decorated statue is venerated,
depicting the datuk. Around the statue offerings are brought,
sometimes on a small altar in front of the datuk statue.
It is believed that there are a total of nine types of Datuks, and
that each of them were once great warriors and expert in Malay local
martial arts, the Silat except for the last Datuk. They were also
known to possess great magical powers. Worshippers usually pray to
Datuks for protection, good health, and good luck, and sometimes
seek divine help to overcome their problems.
Below are the nine Datuks named according to their seniority from
the eldest to the youngest:
1. Datuk Panglima Ali (Ali)
2. Datuk Panglima Hitam (Black)
3. Datuk Panglima Harimau (Tiger)
4. Datuk Panglima Hijau (Green)
5. Datuk Panglima Kuning (Yellow)
6. Datuk Panglima Putih (White)
7. Datuk Panglima Bisu (Mute)
8. Datuk Panglima Merah (Red)
9. Datuk Panglima Bongsu (Youngest)
Worshippers usually offer fresh flowers, sireh (betelnuts), rokok
daun (local hand rolled cigarettes), sliced pinang (areca nuts) and
local fruits. An important part of the praying ritual is also to
burn some kemenyan (benzoin - made of a local gum tree, when burnt
will emit a smoky fragrant smell).
If their prayers are answered, the worshippers usually return to the
shrine and make offerings or hold a Kenduri (feast).
The kenduri items usually consist of yellow saffron rice, lamb or
chicken curries, vegetables, pisang rastali (bananas), young
coconuts, rose syrup, cherrots (local cigars) and local fruits.
Pork items are considered impure and are therefore totally forbidden
in a shrine; visitors are also asked to not show disrespect when
inside or around a shrine.