Saturday, 1 November 2014

台北霞海城隍廟 The City's God: Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple




我覺得這一集跟雅立聊到最有趣的是,很多台灣人即使不信教,或是對宗教沒有很大的信心,還是會去拜拜。過年如果不用值班,我會陪我爸媽進行他們六十幾年來的例行行程,除夕夜三更半夜到松江路的行天宮,萬華的媽祖宮,和龍山寺,有時候還去關渡宮拜拜。我媽總是很多話要跟神明們講,所以我和我爸都很早就拜完,出去外面等。在國外長大,小時候幾乎沒接觸過這種拜拜文化,我就問我的博士老爸,「你是信眾嗎?你相信拜了就有用嗎?」。他就說,「搞不好會靈啊~」。真的是 "keeping an open mind."

The City's God: Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple

Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple attracts hoards of visitors every year to its tiny temple every year. Most of them are here to pray to the matchmaking god. Having experienced how difficult it is to find one's soulmate, I understand why these people come. This is pretty much common knowledge to people, but on this trip to the temple, I learned a couple of other interesting things.

At one point, there were more than 600 deities here. According to the temple staff, there was a time when a lot of Taiwanese people that believed if you pray to a certain god (which can vary for different people), you'll have a better chance of winning bets, gambles, the lottery, etc. so a lot of them brought idols into their homes. But when that trend passed, they wanted to get rid of these idols and decided to bring them to a temple to be taken care of there. Rather than calling them "abandoned," let's just say they were taken there to "grow old." During the Cultural Revolution, China lost a lot of its religious culture and temples and shrines, so when some of the centers of prayers were rebuilt or resurrected, Taipei's Xiahai Chenghuang Temple sent some 400 deities over to repopulate those temples.

I found Cédric Jouarie's observation of how a lot of "nonbelievers" pray, to be most interesting. Having grown up in the US, I understood very little about religious culture in Taiwan, but nowadays when I don't have to work during Chinese New Year, I accompany my parents on their temple visiting rituals late at night of New Year's Eve. For more than 60 years, they visit Hsing Tian Kong, Wanhua's Longshan Temple and Mazu Temple, and sometimes Guandu Temple. My mom always has a lot to say to people, including to immortal ones, so I usually end up waiting outside with my dad, who likes to get things done quickly. My dad is usually quite rational and scientific, so one time I asked him, "You believe in these gods? Do you really believe they'll answer your prayers?" His answer was, "It doesn't hurt to pray. You never know." Like Cedric says, people here "keep an open mind."

20141025 霞海城隍廟 千里姻緣牽紅線

The English version (about the same as the Chinese)