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Lunar New Year

Crowds flock to Hong Kong’s Che Kung Temple in search of luck and good fortune

Thousands of worshippers light incense sticks and turn the ‘wheel of fortune’ on third day of the Lunar New Year

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 February, 2018, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2018, 12:00pm

Throngs of revellers piled into the famed Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin on the third day of the Lunar New Year to find out – or in many cases, change – their fortunes for the coming year.

Pungent incense smoke billowing from its courtyard and the sound of beating drums blaring, the Taoist temple had been open since 11pm on Saturday and by 5.30pm on Sunday 60,219 visitors had passed through its doors.

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Crowds, many of them families, began to form around noon. Most worshippers offered incense sticks – only three a time per person were allowed this year – before the statue of Che Kung, in the main hall, with the hope of changing their fortunes.

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Others hoped to improve their prospects by turning the iconic fan-shaped brass “wheel of fortune”, which if spun three times, is said to bring luck.

Many wished the new year would bring good health and prosperity to the people of Hong Kong while others wished for fewer divisions in the community. “I came early to try to beat the crowds,” said one man, who arrived early in the morning. “I wish good health for all of Hong Kong.”

In pictures: a day at Che Kung Temple celebrating the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong

Another woman wished for “peace and prosperity for the nation”.

She added: “I hope there will be fewer natural disasters.”

Some well-wishers were more civic-minded and hoped to see some of the city’s pressing social problems solved over time. “I hope everyone will have a home to live in. Many young people can’t get on the property ladder because prices are so expensive. I hope the government builds more subsidised housing,” said another woman.

According to Chinese superstition, the third day of the Lunar New Year is generally not appropriate for visiting the homes of family and friends as squabbles can break out easily. As a result, people tend to head outdoors to celebrate.

The temple was named after Song dynasty commander Che Kung, who had a reputation for ridding villages of plagues and suppressing uprisings.

At the temple on Saturday, Heung Yee Kuk chief Kenneth Lau Yip-keung drew a lucky stick with the number 21 for Hong Kong, which is a neutral one.

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Written as a poem in Chinese, this year’s offering, roughly translated, read: “At a plough with long history, the ancestors’ work had been accumulated. People should keep in mind that an inch of land is an inch of gold, no matter more or less.”

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The message also said: “Family would be thriving yet people cannot succeed in earning as much as they wish.” Lau’s interpretation of the message was that the city could “make progress if we are united and work harder”.