October 02, 2008

Evironmentally friendly temple

I've had this article sitting around for about a month now, since before I went on vacation. It's translated from the Liberty Times.

Because the smoke and ashes caused by burning paper money at the temple drew complaints from neighboring businesses, Kaihua temple in Zhanghua stopped burning paper money and instead began implementing "aroma worship" thirty years ago. Many worshipers do not even burn incense, but instead offer flowers in worship. This has reduced smoke and created an elegant and refreshing environment.

Kaihua temple manager Wang Shixiang said that the temple, which is located at the intersection of Zhonghua Road and Minzu Road, used to have a furnace for burning joss money in the courtyard. The temple was busy all day long. Nearby were many businesses and vehicles coming and going, so the smoke and ashes caused by worshipers burning joss money drew protests from the public. Wang said the the temple implemented a policy of not allowing the burning of joss money. Temple goers eventually became accustomed to this, and worshiped by using only incense. Some even use flowers, fruit, or Hawaiian items (?:壇島) instead of incense, which reduces the amount of smoke pollution even more. After the 9/21 earthquake, the temple went one step further by removing the furnace which had already been closed for many years, underscoring the no-burning policy even more. Because of this, the temple remains clean and elegant, and the ornate wood carvings are well preserved.

Kaihua temple was built in the second year of the Yongzheng reign of the Qing dynasty. It has been renovated multiple times, the last time being six years ago. The temple has been praised as "Zhanghua's number one temple." The main hall honors the bodhisattva Guanyin, the two side halls honor the 18 lohans, and the back hall honers the Three Governors (the governors of heaven, earth, and water), Zhusheng Niangniang (a fertility goddess), as well as Dou Gong and Dou Po (gods that cure smallpox, by tradition. Nowadays, they are likely used as cosmetic gods).


A sidebar to the article has the opinion of three people about Kaihua temple's practice of not burning joss money. All three commenters think it is a great idea and hope that Kaihua temple could spread the practice to other temples.



Post a Comment

<< Home