Lucky windmills to draw temple crowds

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 February, 2011, 12:00am

Wong Tai Sin Temple staff are bracing for one million worshippers for this year's annual festivities, and on Lunar New Year's Eve the first 688 visitors will get a blessed windmill.

This auspicious number of worshippers will receive the windmill as part of the temple's 90th anniversary.

The windmills will be distributed between the propitious hours of 11pm and 1am, so there is a small window of opportunity for lucky visitors.

Sik Sik Yuen - the Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian charity that runs the temple - expected one million visitors during this Lunar New Year period, 20 per cent more than last year, when the temple reopened its main altar after 12 months of renovations.

About 30,000 offered the first joss sticks of the new lunar year last year.

An extra drawcard will be an underground hall, opened last month, where visitors can worship 60 gods of the stars.

Wilson Or Wai-shun, director of Sik Sik Yuen, said the organisation was most worried about the crowds on Lunar New Year's Eve. 'We are not worried about the other days as we have enough personnel in place,' he said.

The temple will be closed at 5.30pm on Lunar New Year's Eve tomorrow, and will reopen at 9pm and close at 6.30pm on Thursday.

Three altars will be set up for placing candles, and every worshipper can bring a maximum of nine candles, but the drawing of fortune-telling sticks on Lunar New Year's Eve will be suspended. Visitors are urged not to bring thick candles, oil or paper offerings, for safety reasons.

From Lunar New Year's Eve, a crowd management system will allow the same number of visitors to enter as those who leave.

Police security measures will be in place from 7pm tomorrow until 7pm on Thursday, and daily between 7am and 7pm from February 4 to 9 as well as from February 12-14 and 17.

Special traffic arrangements include the closure of a section of Shatin Pass Road between Lung Cheung and Fung Tak roads.

The new hall, which charges HK$100 for admission, will be closed tomorrow and on Thursday. Entry to the Wong Tai Sin Temple is free.

Or said more than 6,000 people have visited the new worship hall.

'Around 30 per cent of the 6,000 visitors paid an extra HK$300 for [a special blessing ritual],' he said.

The peak season for visiting the new worship hall, where the earth guardians are housed, would begin on Friday, he said.

The great giveaway

About 1m people will visit Wong Tai Sin Temple , drawn partly by an offer of windmills, with only this many available: 688