Lady Shui Wei
Lady Shui Wei is a Hainan deity worshipped by Hainanese around the world and her birthday is celebrated on the 15th day of the 10th lunar month.
She is also referred to as Goddess of the Waterfront and is part of the Taoist Pantheon.
Legend of Lady Shui Wei
Accordingly to the Hainanese, there was once a fisherman Pan who lived in Wen Chang County in Hainan Island. On one of his fishing trips, his net became heavy and suspecting a good catch, he exerted much effort to recover the net. To his surprise, the net was empty but there was a block of wood.
He threw it back to sea but the same scenario reenacted over the next few days. Fisherman Pan wondered if the wood might have miraculous powers and so asked it for help to gain a good catch. He promised to build a temple to enshrine it if his wish was fulfilled.
Fisherman Pan did get a good catch but he was too poor to honor his promise so the block of wood was left outside his house. Strangely, his pigs began falling sick and that reminded him of his promise.
Meanwhile, villagers also reported sightings of a lady sitting on the branches of his longan tree.
Founding of Lady Shui Wei temples
When word spread about fisherman Pan’s unfulfilled promise, his fellow villagers encouraged him to raise funds for the temple construction. When sufficient funds were collected, fisherman Pan and villagers prayed for advice on the location of the temple. A child suddenly sprang forth and led them to a spot where the temple should be built.
This became the location for the first Lady Shui Wei temple. Since then, villagers who appealed to her for help had their prayers answered.
Miracles and imperial title
During the reign of Qing emperor Dao Guang, a Hainanese man, Scholar Zhang, emerged third in the imperial examinations and was highly trusted in court. On a family visit to Hainan Island, Emperor Dao Guang became very sick and the court sent an imperial official to summon the scholar.
Before the message arrived, Lady Shui Wei informed Scholar Zhang through a dream that the emperor was about to pass away. He promptly returned to Beijing and Emperor Dao Guang indeed passed away a week later.
These and other miracles were reported to the court who bestowed on her a title (南天闪电感应火雷水尾圣娘) in recognition to her protection and blessings to the people of Hainan.
Lady Shui Wei and Hainan diaspora
Towards the late Qing dynasty, the Hainanese began migrating out of China in search of jobs and where they gathered, they built temples as a social space for fellow Hainanese.
In these temples, Lady Shui Wei is often worshipped along with Mazu the sea Goddess.
Lady Shui Wei has since been transformed from a local Hainan goddess to a symbol of Hainan culture and identity.
Temples where Lady Shui Wei is worshipped
Penang Hainan Temple, Penang, Malaysia
Thean Hou Temple, KL, Malaysia
Hainan Association, Saigon, Vietnam