How to pray at Longshan Temple

Last update:2017-12-18 12:40:34

Built nearly three centuries ago in the old part of Taipei (a district called Wanhua), Longshan Temple is the most renowned temple in Taiwan, and a must-visit for those who are fascinated with Eastern religion.

There are a variety of deities in Longshan Temple that people may pray to, depending on their needs. For instance, there is the god of wisdom, god of business, goddess of childbirth… there is even a god for matchmaking!

Worshipers come from all over the island to offer fruits and delicacies to their gods, and in return, they ask for guidance. But unlike western religions, they don’t communicate through figures like priests; instead, they use signs, which in this case are two crescent-shaped wooden blocks. Basically, like a telephone to the gods!

This ritual is known is bwa-bwe, where people with questions toss the two pieces onto the ground in front of the statues of the gods; the way they fall is the answer. If one piece is facing up and the other is down, it’s a YES. If both pieces are facing down then it’s a NO, and if both are up it means NOT CLEAR.

See, simple. If ever you have a question that’s been bothering you, here is a guide on how to properly ask the gods for help.

Before entering, you must pray to the “host” god of the temple, in order to get permission for asking questions: state your name, birthday and address to the host, which in this temple is the goddess of compassion and mercy, Guanyin.

Once in the temple, pray to the rest of the gods, starting from the right. Then you may go to the god you would like to talk to.

Ask  “Are you there?”, because he/she might be busy. You need a YES to move on to your question; if not, wait for another few minutes and ask again.

Ask your YES/NO questions, and be precise. If your question involves a person, give details on who he/she is.

Now, if you want to have a more in-depth answer, you can also pull a wooden stick out of a bucket close to the altar. Each stick has a number on it, corresponding to an ancient Chinese saying.

State your question, and ask whether he/she is willing to give you a stick; you need three consecutive YES answers to pull out one stick.

Once you have a stick, ask if it is the one he/she wants you to have; same with the three YESes rule.

If the god gives you three YESes for the stick, you can get a piece of paper with your Chinese saying, and go to a member of the staff at the temple for further interpretation.

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Lantern Festival: The End of Lunar New Year

Last update:2017-03-13 10:06:39

Lunar New Year, or sometimes known as Chinese New Year, is the annual celebration where family members chat and share lives with each other, enjoying the feel of surrounded by family. Because it's not technically the one day holiday such as Thanksgiving and Christmas that you'd typically see in the western society, Lunar New Year celebration is close to a month worth of celebrating. Even though technically there's only one New Year. In the articles last week we introduced the list of events and holidays within the Lunar New Year celebration; however with the list being so long and complicated, lantern festival was mentioned but not explained in depth.

Lantern Festival Photo by Ting W. Chang. CC:BY-SA

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The Complete Lunar New Year Guide Pt.2

Last update:2016-11-23 13:01:59

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Custom 6: January 1 (Lunar) Spring is Officially in Action

Firecrackers are lit during the countdown to new year to drive away the creature Nian who used to scare the farmers. By the morning of January 1st, everyone, and I mean probably include your mom’s dog she walks everyday, goes out and greets everyone they know from friends, neighbors, to the bosses they usually hate. However, women who are married are traditionally not allowed or shun on for going back their original family on this day as they are considered a part of their husband's family instead of their original family.

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Smell That? The Taste of Lunar New Year on its Way!

Last update:2016-11-23 12:56:39

It's that time of the Lunar New Year again! Have you been summoned to help on New Year's shopping?

Speaking of New Year Essentials, it's gotta be the DiHua Street of Taipei's Dadaocheng business district.
Dadaocheng's trading activity started around the end of Qing dynasty to the early stage of Japanese Occupation, mainly focusing on North&South groceries and teas. After 1945, the street becomes the wholesaler center for Groceries, Chinese Medicine, and Textiles. Most of the buildings still have their traditional looks, not only recording the history of Taipei but also Taiwan's history of international trading and business development. Now Dadaocheng has integrated the traditional structure and it's culturally creative content, the area has attracted a new crowd of tourist coming for its historic and archaic vibe. Not to mention the craziness of families doing New Year's Shopping around the Lunar New Year week. Barely any room to even turn your shoulders, DiHua Street's crowd of people and the different dried goods sold in the store can definitely represent something unique of Taipei.

迪化街 春聯

Whether you're a prepared buyer with lists and deals ready, or a demo person that's hopping in at the right time, or even just a tourist stopping by to experience the Lunar New Year feel, DiHua Street has something for everyone. Rows after rows of cooked food and dried goods ready to lure you, store shouting out sale and bargaining on this side, countless signature items and tastings, all of these asking you the customer to stop and pay with every dime you've got in the wallet. In my honest opinion, it's going to take some effort for you and your wallet to survive DiHua Street during the Festival and New Year times.

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A Match Made in Heaven: Yue Lao in Taipei

Last update:2016-11-23 12:51:37

Relationships and marriage tends to be something that Asian people look to the deities for a definite answer. Even though the younger generations have successfully gained their freedom on choosing partners, the deities and the praying process is still considered as a boost to your luck in love.

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Who said the love of god has to be a baby half naked? Image by martinak15. CC:BY-SA

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