Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tu Di Gong

Tu Di Gong is a local earth god worshipped in China. A popular Chinese deity, he is worshiped by Chinese folk religion worshipers and Taoists. A formal name for Tu Di Gong is ''Fúdézhèngshén'' , meaning the earth god of wealth and merit.

In China, every village had a shrine to Tu Di Gong. It was this deity who was in charge of administering the affairs of a particular village. In traditional times, village concerns were primarily agricultural or weather-related. This god was not all-powerful, but was a modest heavenly bureaucrat to whom individual villagers could turn in times of drought or famine.

Today, he is still worshiped by most Chinese, with many housing small shrines with his image, commonly located under the main altar, or below the house door. Many worshipers make prayers to him for wealth and their well being. He is also traditionally worshiped before the burial of a loved one, to thank him for using his land to return their loved one to the earth.

Commoners often called Tu Di Gong "Grandpa," which reflects his close relationship to the common people.

Tu Di Gong is portrayed as an elderly man with a long white beard, a black or gold hat and a red or yellow robe, which signifies his position as a bureaucrat. He carries a wooden staff in his right hand and a golden ingot on the left.

In the countryside, he is sometimes given a wife, ''Tu Di Po'' , placed next to him on the altar. She may be seen as a just and benevolent deity, or as a grudging old woman holding back her husband's benedictions, which explains why one does not always receive fair retribution for good behaviour.

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