Lighting a tiny light — a guangmingdeng in Chinese — for good fortune during the Lunar New Year is said to bring a safe and smooth year, and is one of the services that big temples in Taiwan offer to worshippers.
The Tientan Temple on Chungyi Road in Tainan is the local religious center. At the end of each lunar year the temple notifies devotees who lit a guangmingdeng in the temple the previous year to remind them to come back to light one again for the coming year.
The period between the first day of the Lunar New Year and the Lantern Festival is the peak season for lighting good fortune lights. To cater to the thousands of devotees, more than 40 students are recruited to help with the illumination ritual every year.
The Tianhou Temple in Anping, with its history of more than 300 years, is well-known nationwide for its worship of Mazu and Koxinga, who defeated the Dutch to claim Taiwan in 1662. Since last year, the temple has offered a special household deal, allowing each worshipper to light one safety light for up to five people. As the organizers expected, this thoughtful service has been well-received.
The Lu’ermen Tienhou Temple, another temple dedicated to Mazu, offers different kinds of lights depending on where they will be placed and how many people they will be lit for. These include regular lights placed outside the temple, lights placed inside the temple closer to the statue of Mazu and large lights placed in the corridors that can be shared by a family. This way, devotees can connect with the deity based on their own particular needs.
In addition, the district office at the Miaoshou Temple in Anping built a road designed for outdoor lights next to the temple. The proceeds from the lighting ritual will be used to pay the electricity bills for the lights installed on the road, so not only are donors given divine protection, but the community at large benefits. The temple will display the names of contributors in front of the shrine devoted to the deity.
Thomas: What will you be wishing for at this year’s Lantern Festival?
Robert: Not much. I just hope this year’s as good as last year.
Thomas: Why? What happened?
Robert: Well, I launched my own business and recently quit my day job.
Thomas: Pretty good.
Robert: That’s not all. I also learned Spanish and won the local snooker championship.
Thomas: That’s very impressive. You really are a man for all seasons.
a man for all seasons 文武雙全的人
A man for all seasons is a man who can operate successfully in a wide array of different situations. For example: “Leo is an accomplished swimmer, pianist and academic. He’s truly a man for all seasons.”
「a man for all seasons」指的就是一個在各種不同情況下都能表現優異的人。例如：「李奧是一個傑出的泳者、鋼琴家和學者。他實在是十八般武藝樣樣精通」。
Despite the economic problems beginning last year and rumors that people have abandoned the practice, the tradition has stood the test of time. Representatives of these temples all said this year’s business was better than in previous years.
(translated by Theodore Yang)