Thousands cross 'bridge' in ritual for prosperity

Every year, a 35m wooden bridge springs up in the middle of Tampines.

This bridge, which took a week to set up, does not lead anywhere, nor does it help users cross any obstacles.

Yet, thousands of people flock there from all corners of Singapore to cross it as part of a ritual to celebrate the birthday of the God of Prosperity at the Loyang Tua Pek Kong temple.

The birthday celebration, which started on Saturday and spans 10 days, has been going on for around seven years now.

The temple devotees, young and old, queue up in their respective zodiac signs and cross the bridge in the order of the zodiac cycle, starting with those born in the year of the rat.

Holding joss sticks and joss paper, the devotees cross the bridge and then receive a commemorative coin with the year's Chinese zodiac animal on it.

"The devotees do it for good luck and prosperity. It's only for three hours every year that the devotees get to cross this bridge," said Mr Jeffery Tan, the event coordinator for the temple.

When The New Paper visited the temple last night, around 8,000 devotees were seen queueing patiently for their turn to cross the bridge.

One devotee, Ms Judy Tan, 52, a sales promoter, lives in Sengkang had been at the temple to pray since 3pm.

She said: "I came with my sister and we've been to this temple every single year to celebrate the God of Prosperity's birthday."

Some devotees even came from as far as Jurong.

One of them, Mr Alan Yue, 33, came with his children, wife and parents to pray for good luck and wealth.

Mr Yue, a logistics assistant, said: "We keep the zodiac coins every year. They are on display at home and we're trying to get the entire zodiac cycle. So we're definitely coming back for the next few years."

Other festivities at the temple included a Chinese opera and Chinese puppet show.

Mr Teo Chong Tee, the adviser for the temple, said the Tua Pek Kong birthday celebrations have been drawing more visitors each year.

"It's unique and it's something special for the people."

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