Sunday, 19 January 2014

Pre-New Year Rituals

Many locals come to Wong Tai Sin to pray to the gods to improve their fates
Yesterday my friend and I made our second annual pilgrimage to Wong Tai Sin ahead of Chinese New Year on January 31.

We arrived late in the afternoon and thankfully it wasn't too busy, and a beautiful day to visit.

The temple is very organized, with designated places for people to light their incense, and periodically staff remove these joss sticks from containers in front of altars so that they don't get too crowded and catch fire, or people burn themselves. It's a shame people use a lot of the incense sticks, but everyone wants to make their offerings to the gods.

More offerings and bows to the gods
We also contributed to the mass pile of incense, buying a packet each and lighting them. Then we visited each of the gods of wealth, health, blessings and then Wong Tai Sin or Great Immortal Wong himself.

After placing most of the incense there, we paid a visit to the god of marriage, but we didn't subject ourselves to a strange ritual in how you present red ribbons to the deity before tying the knot on the marriage rope between statues of a bride and groom. I did it last year and got me no where!

We visited a few more deities before picking up a can filled with bamboo sticks and did "kao cim" where you decide what you want to ask for, then shake the can at an angle until one stick comes out that has a number on it.

When this was done we hunted down a fortune teller to help us decipher the poems correlated to the numbers we had.

My friend wanted to see a relatively famous fortune teller and there was a line in front of his stall. We waited about half an hour, and got in just before 5pm, closing time.

As a result he was very quick with reading my fortune, rambling on as if he'd said this many times before (probably true), throwing in cliche phrases here and there.

The god of marriage is popular at this time
Basically all he said was: These fortunes aren't great so just stay the course. HK$60 please.

I didn't take much stock into what he said -- while they were somewhat related to my birth month and year, he didn't ask me much more than that and didn't make any calculations, hence the stock phrases.

So while he says to stay the course, I'd rather take fate into my own hands and make some lemonade this year with a splash of vodka to make things more interesting. Life's too short to pick out crappy fortunes.

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