Kek Lok Si Guan Yin
In 1974, Venerable Bai Shen, 白圣长老, the 4th Abbot of Kek Lok Si， 极乐寺， a Buddhist Monastery in Penang initiated an idea to build a great Guan Yin， 观音， sculpture in the monastery. Twelve years later in 1986, this Guan Yin sculpture was unveiled.
Unfortunately, the sculpture was made of fiber glass and unsuitable for the climate of Penang. Within three years, the sculpture began to disintegrate.
Learning from this experience, the next abbot Venerable Da Neng, 达能长老, initiated a second attempt in 1990 to fulfill the aspiration of the previous Abbot.
Three years later in 1993, the ground breaking ceremony for the new sculpture marked the official start of the construction project.
This time, the construction took 9 years and the new Guan Yin sculpture was made of bronze. During the construction period, Venerable Da Neng passed away and the project was also affected by the 1997 Asian Financial crisis.
The next abbot Venerable Ri Heng, 日恒长老,successfully guided the team towards the completion of the Guan Yin sculpture and it was officially unveiled on 5 December 2002.
Standing at 30.2 meters, Kek Lok Si has the tallest standing bronze Guan Yin in the world. Standing by the side of the Guan Yin are sculptures of two Dharma protectors Heng, 哼, and Ha, 哈.
The monastery continued to work on the sculpture by building an 83 meters tall pavilion to house the Guan Yin. The pavilion has 16 granite pillars supporting a roof structure that was inspired by the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China.
On 6 December 2009, 13000 guests including 3000 Buddhist Venerables representing Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana traditions were invited from Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand and Bhutan for the consecration ceremony.
From its initial conception, the Guan Yin sculpture project took 35 years and involved the leadership of 3 abbots of Kek Lok Si. It’s successfully completion represented great determination, leadership and faith of all stakeholders.
Now Penang, Pearl of the Orient, has another gem to show the world.