Sik Sik Yuen, operator of the Wong Tai Sin Temple, has moved the incense burner to a location that is about six feet closer to the entrance of the main temple hall, making it easier for visitors to offer incenses to their god on Lunar New Year’s Eve, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Large numbers of Buddhist and Taoist followers flock to the temple to pay their respects to the idols and seek good fortune for the coming year, which is one of the enduring Lunar New Year traditions in Hong Kong.
It is believed that whoever gets to plant the first incense sticks at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve will be blessed with good fortune.
The new arrangements were also spurred by complaints from pilgrims who said they could not even get a glimpse of Wong Tai Sin’s statue inside the temple because the place is always jampacked.
By moving the incense burner closer to the entrance, more people could see the idol from the back of the crowd.
Arrangement has also been made for media representatives to stay on the two sides of the temple, allowing more space for pilgrims to offer incenses and prayers to the idol.
Sik Sik Yuen board member Or Wai-shun said visitors could now see Wong Tai Sin and make their wishes instead of just looking at the reporters who used to occupy the front of the altar and take photos of them.
Or reminds visitors that the temple would not allow prostrations, drawing of divination sticks and even lengthy worshipping during New Year’s Eve when the place is most crowded.
Other arrangements and crowd-control measures have been adopted, such as moving the drum to the exit for followers to hit to wish for a better year ahead.
Followers now also have a chance to win religious bracelets specially blessed by Taoist priests by liking the “wongtaisintemple” Instagram and Facebook page.
Sik Sik Yuen chairperson Chan Dong said many temples in Malaysia and Singapore have applied for the rights to make a Yue Lao, the Chinese Cupid statue, in hopes of attracting more young people.
Sik Sik Yuen has adapted the religious practices to the digital era. For example, it has opened three new divination machines for fortune-telling, and allowed the use of NFC and QR codes for followers to know their fortune by using their smartphones.
However, in order to interpret the divination, the help of a divination master is still needed.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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