Every year, during the ninth lunar month, Kusu Island, which is also known as Tortoise lsland or Peak Island (Pulau Tembakul) in Malay, sees thousands of devotees flocking to the island for the annual Kusu Pilgrimage Season in the hope for peace, wealth, happiness, and good luck.
Managed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Kusu Island is a picturesque location just 5.6km from Singapore that sees its highest visitorship during the pilgrimage season.
“The Kusu Pilgrimage Season offers a unique tapestry of culture and religion as devotees from different ethnic communities and nationalities come to visit the Da Bo Gong Temple and Malay keramat,” shared Ms Lilian Chua, deputy director for estate management at the SLA.
The popular Da Bo Gong temple was built in 1923 by a wealthy businessman and houses the deities Guan Yin and Da Bo Gong. Guan Yin is known as the “giver of sons” while Da Bo Gong was said to have the power to calm the seas, cure diseases, avert danger and confer prosperity.
One can also climb up the 152 steps to the top of a hill to pray at the keramat, or holy shrines of Malay saints. Mr Faizer K Shazi, a devotee, said, “As a child, I used to come here with my father. Now, I still continue this tradition every year with my wife and children. Sometimes, we even come during the weekends to pray and pay our respects.”
Mr Ng Lye Heng, a hawker at the stalls set up specially during the pilgrimage season, shared that there has been a lot of effort to upkeep the island over the years. He said, “Now the whole island looks very nice, perfect for the many visitors who come during the pilgrimage month.”
Kusu Island boosts a rich cultural heritage for city-dwellers keen on taking a quick respite from city life. Visitors to the island can take photos of the beautiful island and pose among Chinese-inspired architecture or have a picnic by the beach, a popular choice for many families and couples.
Take a stroll and admire the abundant tortoises lazing in the afternoon heat. With our lives becoming increasingly fast-paced and hectic, short getaways are a great way to refresh and recharge. Many who have come to this island leave with a spring in their steps as they savour nature at its finest.
Simon Ong (Chairman), Johnson Seah,
Ng Siau Yong and Soh Kheng Peng
Facebook & Instagram @singaporelandauthority
Eai-Sy Yap, Sim Sze-wei, Cheryl Lim, Cho Chui Wai
and Lee Mou Jian