Early-bird worshippers hope for generous amount of goddess' luck

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 February, 2009, 12:00am

The city's lenders may be out of money, but the Goddess of Mercy is being especially generous this year.

People have already started to line up outside the Kwun Yum Temple in Hung Hom, Lotus Palace in Tai Hang and Tin Hau Temple in Shau Kei Wan for the Kwun Yum Treasury Opening Festival.

When the goddess, Kwun Yum, opens the treasury at 11pm today, worshippers will receive a red packet containing a note with number signifying the amount of money she is 'lending them'. The larger the number, the better the financial year. No money is actually handed out.

A staff member at Tin Hau Temple said the amounts ranged from HK$30 million to HK$880 million this year, a much higher cap than last year's HK$380 million.

'I came on Monday afternoon,' said Ms Wai, a woman in her 60s who was first in line outside the Kwun Yum Temple in Hung Hom. The devout Buddhist said she had been to the treasury opening day for more than 10 years and she was the first in the temple at last year's ceremony.

Another early bird, Ms Leung, who also had joined the queue on Monday, said she lost nearly HK$8 million in the financial crisis, so she was keen to borrow a bit of financial good fortune. Traditionally, the treasury opening day falls on the 26th day of the Lunar New Year.

Aside from the red packet, people will also take home lettuce, which is associated with good fortune, and an envelope full of peanuts, lotus seeds and other nuts symbolising a prosperous year. The notes must be returned before the next Lunar New Year.

The treasury opening day will run till 8pm tomorrow at Hung Hom and 6pm tomorrow at Tai Hang and Shau Kei Wan.