Archive for the 'Religion' Category

Giant red god temple, Toufen, Taiwan

For the casual observer, once you’ve seen a few temples in Taiwan they all start looking similar.  Intricate carvings, wall and ceiling paintings, statues of ferocious warriors and gentle deities – I started getting used to them.  Obviously, once one starts studying Taiwanese worship and religion, different temples take on different meanings and one can appreciate them more, but I’m not there yet.  So, now I generally drive by them without marvelling at these conspicuous looking structures in the otherwise drab small town landscape.

That is until I drove by this fierce looking specimen:

Big red god in toufen Continue reading ‘Giant red god temple, Toufen, Taiwan’

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Pigs of God festival, Sanxia, Taipei

The Pigs of God is an extremely controversial festival that’s celebrated by the Hakka people of Taiwan.  It takes place in Sanxia (at the Zushi temple) every year,  around Chinese New Year.  In the Roman calender this falls around end Jan / beginning Feb.

Here’s what happens.

Farmers from all over Taiwan spend about 2 years fattening up pigs to enter this competition.  The pigs are sequestered, force-fed and ballooned up to 10 times their normal weight.  During the last few days before the competition, the pigs are fed sand and metal (reportedly lead) in order to increase their weight.  At this point, the pigs cannot even stand – they just lay around.  Because of their excessive weight, they may have massive internal injuries – basically, they are slowly and painfully dying. Continue reading ‘Pigs of God festival, Sanxia, Taipei’

Zushi Temple (清水祖師廟), Sanxia, Taipei

Zushi TempleZushi temple, in Sanxia, Taipei is one of the older temples in Taiwan.  It was originally built in 1767 and has gone through 3 reconstructions since.  We went on a rainy day but that, in no way, lessened the  beauty of the temple.  I’m always in awe when I visit a temple in Taiwan because of the sheer amount of intricate artwork and carvings jammed tightly into such a small space.  This holds doubly true for the Zushi temple because of the large amount of stonework within it’s walls. Continue reading ‘Zushi Temple (清水祖師廟), Sanxia, Taipei’

Qingming Festival (清明節) – Tomb sweeping day

Eastern culture, unlike the west, has hung on to a lot of it’s old traditions and religious practices.  The unstoppable behemoth of progress has not reduced centuries of faith and belief to minute vestiges of what once was.  Here in Taiwan, it seems that the people have incorporated both systems together, and each play a daily part in their lives.  One of the aspects of this is the importance that Taiwanese give to their ancestors which is manifested in the Qingming Festival. Continue reading ‘Qingming Festival (清明節) – Tomb sweeping day’

The burning charm

It seems, I’m fighting a losing battle with the ghosts of Taiwan.  I wrote an account a while back about  visiting a temple to get rid of bad chi.  Well, the spirits have since taken personal affront to my rejection of their chi.  The Mrs. recently informed me that my chi was giving the aroma of mouldy cheese again.  Well, I like mouldy cheese, but since she doesn’t, counter measures needed to be taken. Continue reading ‘The burning charm’

Rituals at a temple

I recently went to a temple to get rid of my bad chi.

Chi (or qi) is a person’s life force or life energy.  Maybe think of it as spirit, although the Taiwanese believe it is much more corporeal.  My girlfriend (who is the daughter of a practising Taiwanese fortune teller / priest) told me that I have bad chi.  She says that her body is very sensitive to a person’s chi, and mine’s reeking of mouldy socks. Continue reading ‘Rituals at a temple’



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