|District||Northeast Penang Island District|
Shown within George Town
|Founder||Phra Phorthan Kuad|
Wat Chayamangkalaram (Thai: วัดไชยมังคลาราม; RTGS: Wat Chaiyamangkhalaram) (also called as the Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple) is a Thai temple in Pulau Tikus suburb of George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Situated in Kelawei Road, the temple located close to the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple. It is the oldest Malaysian Siamese temple in the state. The temple became a focal point for the annual Siamese Songkran and Loi Krathong festivals within the city suburb and for the city yearly Buddha Day procession.
The site for the temple was cleared in 1795 after a piece of land was granted to both Burmese and Siamese community in George Town by Queen Victoria during the Straits Settlements era. In 1830, there is around 648 Burmese and Siamese out of the 40,000 population. Part of the land awarded to the Siamese is given as a diplomatic gesture to promote trading ties between the British Empire and the Siamese Rattanakosin Kingdom, which was presented by the then Governor of the Straits Settlements, William John Butterworth to two Siamese female trustees named Nankayo and Boonsoon as the community representative. Inscriptions also showed that the building of the temple had been largely due to the philanthropic efforts of local Chinese Buddhists.
In 1845, the temple was founded in the given land by Phra Phorthan Kuad, a powerful monk which according to the local legend was also very fond of asam laksa. This subsequently making the dish become a norm offerings by devotees when visiting his shrine in the temple. In 1948, the temple officially named as "Wat Chayamangkalaram". Since its establishment, the temple has undergoing several renovations with the addition of other structures. A reclining Buddha statue named Phra Chaiya Mongkol are being constructed in the temple in 1958 with a total cost of M$100,000 (Malayan dollar). In 1962, the temple are visited by the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit as part of their state visit to Malaya.
The temple features one of the world's longest reclining Buddha statue as well as several coloured statues of Yaksha and other mythical creatures. Measuring from 32 m (105 ft) to 33 m (108 ft) from end to end, the statue also serves as a columbarium, in which the urns of the cremated are housed. Several smaller statues of the Buddha in various poses, as well as the Devas can be seen throughout the temple, particularly adorning the main prayer hall.
The site of the Pulau Tikus Siamese Temple, the oldest Siamese temple in Penang, was cleared in 1795 and a Burmese temple was established there since the early nineteenth century. Around 1830, the Siamese and Burmese community totalled 648 out of a population of about forty thousand. In 1845, during the term of W. J. Butterworth as governor of the Straits Settlements, the East India Company made a grant of land to the Burmese and Siamese inhabitants to be jointly held by Nongmay and Boonkhan as representatives of the Burmese community, and Nankayo and Boonsoon as representatives of the Siamese community. The first head priest was Phra Kuad. Inscriptions showed that the building of the temple had been largely due to the philanthropic efforts of Chinese Buddhists. This temple was renamed Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram in 1948, and its famous Reclining Buddha statue was unveiled by the Thai king and queen before a crowd of 5,000 during their official trip to Malaya in 1962.
Across the street, closer than a stone's throw away, is the Wat Chayamangkalaram. Much like its Burmese neighbour, the temple is a feast of colours – particularly gold. Queen Victoria first granted the land to the Buddhist community in 1845 to promote trade between the British Empire and Siam. A thing of beauty, if not dominance, the reclining Buddha is the temple's centrepiece and main place of worship. However, as well as serving as a stunning backdrop for people praying and burning incense, it also serves as columbarium. A visitor can walk completely around the statue and, at the back of the statue, can view where the urns of the cremated are housed. One thing to notice when visiting the temple is the offerings made at different shrines. Of note, you can sometimes find a bowl of laksa sitting at the base of a shrine. It is not unusual for offerings of food to appear at Buddhist places of worship, but laksa supposedly has a specific relevance. The first monk in Wat Chaiyamangkalaram was Phorthan Kuat, a Theravada Buddhist monk from Siam also known as the 'Powerful Monk'. It is said that he was very fond of asam laksa and, to this day, the famous local dish is still offered to his shrine by devotees.
Revellers at the Water Festival "fired" at visitors with their water guns at the Wat Chayamangkalaram and Dhammakirama Burmese Buddhist temples in Burma Lane, where the three day celebrations began yesterday.
Hundreds of revellers thronged Wat Chayamangkalaram in Pulau Tikus here to usher in the Thai New Year or more popularly known as Songkran.