Cuff Road shophouse home to vegetarian aunts since 1954

A zhai tang (vegetarian hall) in Cuff Road has been home to a low-profile group of so-called “vegetarian nuns”. The women-only living quarters have housed the unmarried, widowed, destitute or orphaned since the late 19th century.
Fengzhu Gu (left) praying at the Guanyin Gong vegetarian hall in Cuff Road. Dr Show Ying Ruo (at left in centre picture), who studied these halls, says the shophouse that is home to the hall (right) was bought for $30,000.
Vegetarian aunt Fengzhu Gu, 80, praying at a shrine near the entrance of Guanyin Gong Temple in Cuff Road.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG
Fengzhu Gu (left) praying at the Guanyin Gong vegetarian hall in Cuff Road. Dr Show Ying Ruo (at left in centre picture), who studied these halls, says the shophouse that is home to the hall (right) was bought for $30,000.
Dr Show Ying Ruo speaks with Fengzhu Gu, 80, at the living space in Guanyin Gong vegetarian hall at Cuff Road.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG
Fengzhu Gu (left) praying at the Guanyin Gong vegetarian hall in Cuff Road. Dr Show Ying Ruo (at left in centre picture), who studied these halls, says the shophouse that is home to the hall (right) was bought for $30,000.
Guanyin Gong vegetarian hall in Cuff Road. Dr Show Ying Ruo, who studied these halls, says the shophouse that is home to the hall was bought for $30,000.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

Every eighth day of the lunar month, Fengzhu Gu (not her birth name), who wears her hair in a neat bun, prays from 6am till noon.

The 80-year-old flips through a book with neatly catalogued pink slips of prayer requests from devotees, and recites scriptural prayers on their behalf. Their prayer needs range from pleas for offspring, as well as blessings for safety and prosperity which families usually request at the start of each lunar year.

Please or to continue reading the full article. Learn more about ST PREMIUM.

Enjoy unlimited access to ST's best work

  • Exclusive stories and features on multiple devices
  • In-depth analyses and opinion pieces
  • ePaper and award-winning multimedia content
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 14, 2019, with the headline 'Cuff Road shophouse home to vegetarian aunts since 1954'. Print Edition | Subscribe