Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Lifestyle / People

Temple offering a unique experience

By Michael Rhys Card | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-09 08:00
Share - WeChat
Crowds of visitors at Wong Tai Sin temple during the recent Spring Festival. [Photo by MICHAEL RHYS CARD/CHINA DAILY]

With a history spanning thousands of years, it comes as very little surprise that China is home to a myriad of holidays and festivals, both old and new, sprinkled throughout the year. Most prominent of these is doubtless the Spring Festival holiday which is celebrated nationwide.

Yet, due to the sheer scale of the country, traditions surrounding Spring Festival vary from province to province, so those traveling during the holiday period can experience new and interesting ways to enjoy the festival and its customs.

My first experience of Spring Festival was in Changchun, capital of Jilin province in Northeast China, where I spent the holiday with the family of a friend, eating far too many dumplings and watching (but not understanding) the China Central Television's Spring Festival Gala with the constant explosion of fireworks going off in the background.

What I didn't realize was these traditions, though similar in many ways, vary across the country. For example, the southern regions of China have a number of customs and celebrations that differ from those in the north, in particular those in Guangdong province and nearby Hong Kong where I spent the recent Spring Festival holiday.

Among the lion dances and temple fairs, a common tradition for the locals of Hong Kong is to ring in the New Year at Wong Tai Sin temple. Wong Tai Sin, a Taoist temple, was constructed in 1921 in the Kowloon district of the city and is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, or the Great Immortal Wong, the deified form of Huang Chuping, a Taoist hermit who lived during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). He is a popular figure in the south of China, and was said to possess the power of healing.

The temple is a popular place of worship and tourism throughout the year, but during Lunar New Year, the crowds swell beyond measure, with eager visitors impatient to get inside and make their offering as soon as possible, due to the belief that the earlier you enter the temple to offer your incense, the better luck you will have for the coming year.

Once they enter Wong Tai Sin, visitors are ushered through the complex at a constant pace just to keep the vast throngs of worshippers moving. Those entering with the purpose of praying find their fate using Chinese fortune sticks, where supplicants ask questions and receive answers on the flat sticks they choose that are inscribed with text or numbers.

Seeing the crowds embrace this Spring Festival tradition at Wong Tai Sin is a remarkable experience and shows just how differently one holiday can be celebrated. It is this variety that keeps my life in China filled with countless new experiences and adventures, no matter where I go.

Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349