Gods join parade to mark Taoist festival
The Taoist god of healing, Wong Tai Sin, made his first appearance outside Wong Tai Sin district yesterday on a carnival float as part of the 11th Taoist festival, which coincides with the temple's 90th anniversary this year.
Wong and fellow gods, including Tin Hau, the Goddess of Heaven, and Che Kung, who is said to bring good luck to gamblers, went on parade for the first time.
'Some people worship the gods without knowing that they are Taoist gods. We want to let the public get to know more about them,' said the organiser, Hong Kong Taoist Association vice-chairman Leung Tak-wah.
Leung Yu-wah, vice-chairman of Sik Sik Yuen, the operator of the Wong Tai Sin temple, said: 'The parade is to wish for peace and stability in Hong Kong.' He said the Wong Tai Sin parade down Nathan Road yesterday was an extension of the body of the god in the temple. It is not normal practice for the god to parade in the streets, and this was only the second time. The first was during a temple festival in Wong Tai Sin two years ago, Leung said.
The Taoist Association hopes the event will help its quest to make the Taoist sage Lao Tzu's birthday a statutory holiday. It would submit a letter to the Labour Department at the end of this month, Leung said. Its application last year was turned down.
'We are a Chinese religion. Even foreign religions have holidays like Christmas. We hope we can have a holiday so that our believers can gather for celebrations,' he said.
According to the association's census last year, there are more than 1.8 million Taoists in Hong Kong.
Among the 1,400 participants in yesterday's parade with seven carnival floats were Taoist priests, believers and students and teachers from Taoist schools.
'I'm not sure about the meaning of this event. Perhaps to promote Taoism? I'm not a believer, but I agree with the Taoist teachings that we learn in school,' said Form Six student Angel Chiu On-ki from the association's Yuen Yuen Institute No2 Secondary School, following the floats with nine schoolmates.
Chan Yuk-hing, who was watching the parade from the roadside, said: 'I brought my grandson here so he could learn about Chinese traditional culture. We really enjoyed the lion and dragon dances.'he Taoist festival includes a prayer assembly, talks and a Poon Choi banquet for the elderly to be held this month and in April.