China’s Forgotten Hindu Temples

The Hindu reports that there is a forgotten history behind Hindu temples in  Chedian Village, Quanzhou where residents pray before a “cross-legged” “four-armed goddess” with a “demon lying at her feet.” But she is not a Chinese goddess. Ananth Krishnan explains that while scholars remain uncertain about her identity, they do know that the shrine’s roots are Indian and that the of these temples and their Tamil links were “largely forgotten until the 1930s”:

“This is possibly the only temple in China where we are still praying to a Hindu God,” says Li San Long, a Chedian resident, with a smile.

“Even though most of the villagers still think she is Guanyin!” Mr. Li said the village temple collapsed some 500 years ago, but villagers dug through the rubble, saved the deity and rebuilt the temple, believing that the goddess brought them good fortune — a belief that some, at least, still adhere to.

The Chedian shrine is just one of what historians believe may have been a network of more than a dozen Hindu temples or shrines, including two grand big temples, built in Quanzhou and surrounding villages by a community of Tamil traders who lived here during the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties.[Source]

According to the report, The Maritime Museum now showcases an exhibit of Quanzhou’s south Indian links thanks to “renewed interest” and “financial backing” as the local government attempts to revive a history “largely forgotten, not only in China but also in India.”

July 21, 2013, 3:36 PM
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