A Place where Wishes are Fulfilled: Wong Tai Sin Temple
Wong Tai Sin (黃大仙) Temple is located in Chuk Un (竹園) and MTR Wong Tai Sin station. The temple was completely constructed in 1921. It is a Taoist temple and is famous for fulfilling people’s wishes, if one requests them (有求必應). The construction of this temple was from Leung Renyan (梁仁菴), who believed in Wong Tai Sin. One day, Leung received Wong Tai Sin’s message through a process of being possessed by the Deity to convey His message (a process called 扶乩) to build a temple for Him. Following Wong Tai Sin’s instructions, Leung started the construction of the temple and brought his belief of Wong Tai Sin from Mainland China to Hong Kong.
Wong Tai Sin’s story is also an interesting one. He was a poor shepherd and started practicing Taoism when he was 15 years old in the Red Pine mountain. He realized the wisdom of Taoism later on. His brother came visit him in the mountains 40 years later and noticed that Wong Tai Sin was able to transform stones into sheep. The two of them practiced Taoism together and both became Deities. Thus, Wong Tai Sin is also referred to as the “Red Pine Immortal.” Another interesting thing to know is that in the Wong Tai Sin Temple, there are other deities as well, aside from Wong Tai Sin, such as the 12 animals from the lunar new year (Chinese Zodiac). Below is a picture of 4 animals out of 12, namely, sheep, monkey, rooster, and dog.
People normally come to Wong Tai Sin Temple to pray for good fortune, a healthy life, good marriage or even kids. One very popular practice besides burning incense is requesting a stick (Kau chim in Cantonese or 求籤), a practice to draw one stick out of the many from the wooden container by shaking it to beg for an answer about life. The poetry on the stick will give you some instructions about your current situation and either foretell the results or give advice on it. I remembered visiting Wong Tai Sin Temple in August, when all of my friends and I were sweating and kneeling on the pad to beg for a stick. In the end, most of us got a neutral stick saying we should work hard and stay positive about life. There are of course sticks that says something negative, in this case, some people will purchase some lucky charm or find a way to resolve the situation base on the advice given.
Lastly, as the temple was built more than 100 years ago. The architecture of the temple as well as the garden really preserves the look of old temples in China. For people who are interested in religion and architecture, Wong Tai Sin is a temple that can’t be missed out in Hong Kong. Another story to share here was that I asked many Hong Kong colleagues of mine where to visit in Hong Kong when I was an expat there, one colleague just told me, “visit Wong Tai Sin Temple and you don’t miss anything in Hong Kong.”