Sunday, February 15, 2009

Five and more temples in Kaohsiung - praying at the temple

Maybe here I have to explain how to pray in Taoist temple. This is what I did with the advice from friends and temple employees. First, person who goes into temple should have some kind of wish or question to the God. It seems that people don’t go to temple just to pray or organize thoughts as we do in church, for example.

When in temple I bought golden money – it is a set of yellow papers of different sizes, eatable crackers and incense sticks. It cost 100 Taiwan dollars for the set. Then I followed these simple steps, which are used to get answer to question or prayer:
1. At the beginning, set of golden papers and everything is placed in front of main altar – there is big table in front of it – in the picture see A.

2. Now it’s time to burn incense sticks - totally fifteen. Need to light them so that all are emitting smoke (not burning) and then back to altar, have to get on the knees on the red mat and bend three times, while holding incense sticks in front.
3. Now should place incense sticks in various pots around the main altar and in two smaller altars. At the rear pot stick three sticks, three - in the pot on the table, three - in small altar to the right, three - in small alter to the left and finally – three- in the very small alter below central altar. It might depend from temple to temple, so it is good to ask somebody before doing this.
4. Then should pray again while holding two red wooden pieces, which are in the shape of moon.
5. It’s time to get some feedback – have to throw two red pieces in front on the ground. If they land on the opposite sides it’s time to proceed again.
6. There will be pot full with sticks with numbers – in picture see B, from which have to choose one stick and place on the table in front of altar
7. Now need to throw two moon shapes again. If they fall on the opposite sides two times it means that God says that number on the stick is right. If moon shapes fell on the same side, need to pick another stick with number and start over again from point number 6.
8. Now after everything is done, time to get answer to question or prayers – the main reason why person came to temple. There will be shelves with many numbers, need to pick paper from that shelf with corresponds to number on the stick. Then paper is given to a professional working at the temple to explain person’s question.
9. I listened carefully explanation. Even I didn’t understand Chinese; I appeared interested and listening carefully.
10. After official part is over, it is time to burn golden papers. Golden paper set which was left on altar at point 1 is taken and need to pray again while holding all set in front while being on knees on red mat.
11. Then should to go out to oven and burn all set. First should start with big papers and next proceed to smaller ones and then very small ones.
12. At the end, eat crackers and it’s done!

Video: it is not connected with above, but you can see burning of money there

Since I am also a beginner in Chinese culture, description might not be very exhaustive, but at least it is good to provide some information for the internet.

Next to Confucious temple.

Temple guardian
Image: Looking at You!

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