Last month, Ry and I paid a visit to the impressive Wong Tai Sin Temple.
Established in 1921, it is one of the most famous temples in Hong Kong; home to Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
Located in North Kowloon, the natural setting and beautifully ornamented buildings create a great scenic attraction, as well an important religious centre.
The temple commemorates the famous monk, Wong Tai Sin, who was born in the 4th century. Originally named Wong Chuping, he began to follow Taoism when he was 15. Forty years later, he achieved enlightenment, became immortal and people renamed him Wong Tai Sin.
In 1915, Taoist priest, Liang Ren-An, carried a sacred portrait of Wong Tai Sin from Southern China to Hong Kong.
Now housing this precious portrait, worshippers come to the temple to pray for good fortune through offerings, divine guidance and fortune telling.
The area surrounding the temple also contains the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals in human postures and clothing.
Is it just me, or does the dragon look really pervy?!
The architecture is absolutely stunning!
The traditional Chinese temple style with grand red pillars, a magnificent golden roof adorned with blue friezes, yellow latticework, and multi-colored carvings is visually spectacular. There is an explosion of colours, lanterns and incense!
It is said that Wong Tai Sin punishes evils, heals the wounded, and rescues the dying.
With his mercy and power, he is said to grant whatever is requested.
The temple is known for its accurate fortune-telling and many prayers answered through a practice called ‘Kau Cim’, which literally translates into ‘request a stick.’ It is often referred to as ‘Chinese Fortune Sticks’ by Westerners.
Individuals light incense sticks…
…and kneel before the main altar…
…make a wish, and shake a bamboo cylinder containing fortune sticks until a stick falls out.
Some people also bring edible gifts for the deity.
This stick is exchanged for a piece of paper bearing the same number and the soothsayer will interpret the fortune on the paper for the worshiper. This paper is often taken to multiple booths for verification purposes.
Besides telling individuals’ fortune by fortune sticks, some soothsayers also offer palm or face reading.
Prices depend on the soothsayer, as those who have reached a celebrity status due to their accurate fortune-telling charge higher prices. A basic consultation which lasts around 20 minutes will cost around HK $300-800. Furthermore most of the fortune-tellers are able to speak multiple languages (Cantonese, Putonghua, English and sometimes even Japanese!)
The structures in the area represent the five geomantic elements.
These include: the Bronze Pavilion (metal); the Archives Hall (wood); the Earth Wall (earth); the Yuk Yik Fountain (water)…
… and the Yue Heung Shrine (fire), where the Buddha of the Lighting Lamp is worshiped.
Other areas of the complex include the Three Saints Hall, the Confucian Hall and the Good Wish Garden, which is lavishly decorated with Chinoiserie (the imitation of Chinese motifts and techniques in Western art, furniture and architecture).
There’s also some pretty awesome plants and flowers in the garden!
It’s also a great place to rest your camera on a rock to get some great selfies 😉
Wong Tai Sin Temple is well worth a visit if you want to get your fortune told or just fancied a stroll around a beautiful temple, soak in the atmosphere and learn some interesting facts.
Best of all, it’s free! 😀