GEORGE TOWN: A cacophony of prayers, drums and cymbals greeted devotees at the more than 200-year-old Goddess of Mercy Temple as monks consecrated the newly refurbished temple. They were led by abbot Datuk Seri Venerable Seck Jit Heng who presided over the unveiling of the main altar as well as the candle lighting ceremony. The main temple pavilion was filled with devotees who joined the monks in prayers and chants during the sacred ceremony to invite the deities inside. Earlier, Kong Hock Keong Trustees chairman Datuk Seri Khoo Keat Siew said the refurbishing works cost RM6 million and work started in 2012. He said the work to restore the 217-year-old temple included repairing the roof which was damaged in a storm five years ago, strengthening the structure and giving the building a new coat of paint. Khoo said the temple, known as Kuan Ying Teng in the Hokkien dialect, was an illustration of social harmony in society as represented by the three wells within the premises. He said these wells represent the social and spiritual cohesion that helps bring the Chinese people together. He said the three wells also correspond to the three main deities which brought peace, comprising Ma Chor, the goddess of seafarers, Guan Kong, god of war and Kuan Ying, goddess of mercy. "What began as roof repair works have developed into a full scale conservation process including the creation of a small garden, interpretation panels and the consecration ceremony to welcome the deities," he said. In his speech, Seck thanked devotees and those who have donated to the conservation efforts. He said this was the fourth time refurbishment works were carried out and that the last was in 1964. Also present was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who announced the state will be allocating RM200,000 to the temple and a further RM50,000 will be allocated from the Penang Island City Council. He also urged the federal government to strengthen the mechanism for the listing of national heritage buildings. He said the trustees of such buildings should still have a say over the management of the building and that the federal government provide grants to these trustees. He said doing so can give confidence to trustees to accept such listings but noted any such listing still required the go-ahead of the state government. "The federal government cannot force the issue, if, after consulting with the trustees who say no, the state will not assent to the listing," he added in his speech.