Choi will be remembered for preserving a part of Chinese culture
Few Hongkongers have had as much influence in people’s daily life as Choi Park-lai, who died last Thursday. The feng shui master’s almanac has rightly been recognised as intangible cultural heritage
In an era when popularity and success are defined by page views and numbers, it sounds unbelievable that someone in his late nineties is still followed by countless people here and overseas. What makes it even more amazing is that his work has been credited with official recognition both in Hong Kong and on the mainland. We are not saying the leading feng shui master Choi Park-lai – who passed away in the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital last Thursday, aged 96 – has as sweeping an online presence as many internet celebrities. But the Chinese almanac he published has been religiously followed by generations of believers, so much so that it has been recognised as intangible cultural heritage by the Guangdong authorities.
Few Hongkongers have had as much influence in people’s daily life as Choi. Be it choosing an auspicious date for a wedding, signing contracts or starting a business inauguration, or avoiding running into bad luck when travelling, undergoing surgery or moving house, his almanac provides a good reference. He was also the favourite feng shui consultant of the rich and famous and had advised on the designs and opening dates of key landmarks.
To Choi, the almanac is more than just a reference for those seeking good luck. It is a collection of wisdom based on thousands of years of astronomical observations and experience to provide guidance to all walks of life. Whether geomancy is trustworthy is, of course, still open to debate. There are those who dismiss it as just superstition. But it remains an intrinsic part of Chinese culture that is widely practised and observed.
Choi has done a great service in preserving an art that once risked disappearing on the mainland. The Guangdong-born Choi was the third-generation descendant of a family well versed in the compilation of astronomical calendars for more than a century. When he came to Hong Kong in the 1950s, he brought with him the unique culture and enabled it to survive and be followed by Chinese here and overseas. Aptly awarded with the prestigious Gold Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong government in 2015, the legendary master shall be remembered for his contribution in sustaining one of the oft-misunderstood aspects of Chinese culture.