Lined with towering sky scrapers and larger than life department stores Hong Kong is often perceived as a holiday destination for those with consumerist leanings. But a closer look at the island nation’s touristic landscape finds that there is a lot more to explore and discover in this bustling metropolis of the modern era. Littered with intriguing cultural hotspots the various places of religious worship are perhaps the country’s most captivating points of interest.
Tin Hau is a Chinese deity who enjoys special precedence in Hong Kong’s religious identity with over 60 temples dedicated to the goddess of the sea scattered all across the island nation. The most famous of all Tin Hau temples in the country is of course the grand structure located on Tin Hau Temple Road.
Although the current structure is believed to have been constructed in 1868 the original temple building had occupied the space as far back as1747. The temple bell from that first temple structure is still visible today in its ancient splendour. Folklore states that the temple was first constructed after a working incense burner was astoundingly discovered floating on the seabed. Due to her special associations with the sea the ocean goddess Tin Hau is considered the patron deity of fishermen and the temple is often frequented by seafaring communities to acquire blessings in their excursions on the deep blue.
Famed for its exquisite Shek Wan figurines the temple also features elaborate stone carvings that are scattered across the entrance and within the interiors of the temple. The space above the main entrance is decorated with two fire breathing dragons to dispel evil spirits. The central altar within the temple is devoted to the patron saint of fishermen and seafarers Tin Hau while altars dedicated to Tsoi San, the god of wealth are found on either side.
Hallways located inside the temple also contain altars consecrated to the worship of the Goddess of Childbirth in addition to a number of shrines honoring Pau Kung, the judiciary of the world beneath.
In the months of April/ May Hong Kong celebrates the birthday of Tin Hau in a melee of colour that includes processions, traditional rituals, and making paper offerings to the deity to ensure fair weather in the year ahead.
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