Thien Hau Temple, also known as Chua Ba Thien Hau in Vietnamese and as Tian Hou Gong in Chinese, is a Taoist temple in Los Angeles Chinatown. It is a popular site for worship and tourism in the Los Angeles area. Thien Hau Temple is dedicated to Mazu, the Taoist goddess of the sea and patron saint to sailors, fishermen, and to those whose cultures are associated with the sea. Guan Yu, the god of war, brotherhood, and righteousness; Fu De, the god of the earth, wealth and merit; Dizang, a bodhisattva from the Buddhist faith are also worshiped at the Thien Hau Temple.
The original building of the temple was formerly a Christian church. It was purchased in the 1980s and transformed into a small Taoist temple. Blessed with a strong faith-based community in and outside of Chinatown Los Angeles, the temple was able to raise enough funds with which to build a larger temple next door. After two years of building, the new temple was completed in September 2005. The temple was officially dedicated on March 25, 2006.
The temple is run and operated by the Camau Association of America, a local benevolent, cultural and religious association primarily directed at and associated with the local Vietnamese refugees from Camau Province of Vietnam. The association is also supported by other East Asian communities.
The temple is especially festive before and after Chinese New Year. About one month prior to Chinese New Year, people come to the temple to give thanks for the past year by burning incense and offering items such as roast pig, fruit, and flowers. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, many people gather to receive blessings and to burn incense and worship to the deities. Lion dancers perform and firecrackers are popped to scare away evil spirits. Many people come to the temple during the first few weeks after Chinese New Year to receive a blessing for the year.
Thien Hau Temple celebrates the birthday of Mazu on March 23 of the Lunar Calendar. Faithful believers come from all parts of the world to celebrate this day. Festivities include firecrackers, lion dances, and various entertainment such as opera, martial arts display, etc. Food is served to the community. The birthdays of the other deities housed at the temple are celebrated also but on a smaller scale than that of Mazu. The birthday of Fu De is celebrated on March 29 of the Lunar Calendar. The birthday of Guan Yu is celebrated on May 13 of the Lunar Calendar. The birthday of Dizang is celebrated on July 30.