Hong Kong’s renowned Wong Tai Sin Temple is highly esteemed by many Chinese people. A Taoist shrine inaugurated in 1921, the temple is dedicated to a famed Taoist immortal. The legend says that Wong Chuping began the practice of Taoism at the age of 15. Forty years afterwards, he attained enlightenment and achieved the status of an immortal. From this time onwards he was known as Wong Tai Sin. He is said to punish evildoers, save the dying and restore the health of the wounded.
The legend of Wong Tai Sin reached the area of Hong Kong from Guangdong Province during the first quarter of the 20th century. As a result of his great power and mercy, he is considered to be able to grant any wish made at the temple. The Wong Tai Sin Temple is famed for fortune-telling and the predictions made are considered to be very accurate. Typically a devotee will request to know what is in store for him or her in the coming year. Worshippers light incense, kneel in front of the principal shrine, think of a desired wish and shake a cylinder of bamboo holding fortune telling sticks in anticipation of one coming out. The fortune stick is then used to identify a slip of paper with the same numerals after which the soothsayer elaborates on the fortune present on the slip to the devotee.
Many residents of Hong Kong revere Wong Tai Sin and therefore lit candles and joss sticks can be seen throughout the year, but the temple is particularly busy at the time of the Chinese New Year and the birthday of Wong Tai Sin which falls on the eighth lunar month’s 23rd day.
The temple’s architecture may be considered to be of the customary Chinese style featuring a majestic golden roof decorated with lovely blue friezes, exquisite colourful carvings and yellow latticework. Apart from the temple’s Grand Hall other highlights include the Good Wish Garden and Sansheng Hall. The visitor will also admire the three memorial archways which are typical Chinese architectural elements.
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