Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wong Tai Sin

Wong Tai Sin is a deity popular in Hong Kong with the power of healing. His name literally translates to the "Great Wong". Wong Tai Sin is the divine form of the individual "Wong Cho Ping".


According to ''Self-Descriptions of Chisongzi'' located in Wong Tai Sin Temple, in Hong Kong, Wong Tai Sin was born under the name Wong Cho Ping in 338 in today's , , Zhejiang Province, China. Western sources have him listed at . He began practicing Taoism at fifteen. Forty years later, he was said to have been able to transform s into sheep under the cultivation of the religious philosophy. He rented an apartment in Wan Chai, and set up an altar in his apartment. Later he opened an herbal medicine shop nearby and moved the altar to the back of the shop. Customers coming to his shop could pray at Wong Tai Sin's altar and seek advice for their ailments. Leung would then fill their prescriptions. We can assume that healing did take place, as the popularity of Wong Tai Sin began to grow.

However in 1918, Leung's shop was destroyed by fire. In 1921, Leung said that he received a message from Wong Tai Sin instructing him that a new shrine should be built. The message said that the god had chosen a site that was 3,600 paces from a pier. Leung soon found the spot at the foot of Lion Rock Mountain, near Chuk Yuen village, which was the right distance from the Kowloon City pier.

Leung continued to receive messages from the god dictating the orientation and dimensions of the temple to be built. Wong Tai Sin also told Leung that the shrine should be called "Puyi Tan", and that the temple compound should be called "Sik Sik Yuen" .


The revival of Wong Cho Ping into Wong Tai Sin only happened at the end of the 19th century. Prior to 1911, the dynastic mostly served as the divine religious symbol, often stretching the mandate of heaven into religious terms. After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, a replacement faith symbol was needed. Leung Renyan arrived in Hong Kong in 1915 with a portrait of the Taoist god. Because his timing of reviving the figure into modern society was so exceptional, one can debate whether the success of Wong Tai Sin Temple is beyond pure coincidence.


The area and s are named after the deity's influence. Today, Sik Sik Yuen is an educational and charitable foundation that, true to Leung's origins as a healer, runs a free clinic.
In Hong Kong, there is one MTR station named after Wong Tai Sin and there is a Wong Tai sin Temple. Many tourists from all over the world visit Wong Tai Sin temple every day.

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