Sat, Feb 02, 2019 - Page 13 News List

How to have a good Year of the Pig

A renowned fortune teller and a LGBTQ-friendly Taoist priest show how to make the best of the Year of the Pig, which may be tumultuous for Taiwan

By Davina Tham  /  Staff reporter

Red potted orchids and red pouches filled with red banknotes — perhaps the highest return on NT$100 to be found these days — can be kept in the same way, with the banknotes deposited into an investment account after two or seven days.


Regardless of the zodiac, the Year of the Pig is set to be momentous for Taiwan as it becomes the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, in accordance with a ruling by the Grand Council of Justices issued in 2017.

Those hoping to take advantage of this can find celestial succor at the shrine of the Rabbit God (兔兒神), a Taoist deity who looks after same-sex relationships, in Taipei’s Weiming Temple (威明堂).

Priest Lu Wei-ming (盧威明) says that it is the world’s only shrine to the Rabbit God, and there are cultural reasons why the Lunar New Year is the most crucial time of the year to make a visit and ask for blessings.

“Chinese people believe that if the start of the new year goes well, the rest of the year will go well,” Lu says. Because each year has its own distinct course of fortune, the next opportunity to appeal for good luck and correct the course will come only a year later.

To ingratiate yourself to the Rabbit God, who has a sweet tooth, Lu recommends offering mung bean cake — the old-fashioned kind, he insists — and sake. Worshippers also leave face masks, perfume and other grooming products at the altar, which they then wear to attract romantic opportunities.

Those who wish to show their devotion in more perpetual fashion can ask to become god-children (義子) of the Rabbit God, so as to enjoy his special protection and better share in his prosperity. Lu assures that the ceremony for this is a matter of faith and does not require passing any tests.

Weiming Temple, which attracts LGBTQ visitors from around Asia, particularly Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, has received three or four requests to sanctify same-sex unions since it was established in 2007. But Lu, in his early 30s, says that the temple has yet to bring any of these requests to fruition, as all the couples eventually disagreed on the need for a Taoist ceremony.

“Young people these days don’t pay much attention to traditional marriage rituals and customs. What’s important to them is capturing the sweet and romantic sentiment of their love,” Lu says, adding that the temple has always hoped to help couples perform marriage rites.

With same-sex marriage in sight, that could finally happen in the Year of the Pig. And in what could be a tumultuous year for the nation, it would not be wrong to cling to and celebrate the intimate relationships we hold dear.

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