Thu, Feb 22, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Temple in Lukang provides online religious services

CONVENIENCE The launch of the service to take part in a ceremony remotely enabled devout worshippers to avoid the large New Year's crowds

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

All over Taiwan, families are joyously ushering in the year of the Pig. However, according to Chinese astrology, the porcine Year could prove inauspicious for people born in previous pig years.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the years bearing one's own sign are considered dangerous by those who believe in Chinese astrology.

Those who are facing their "same-fate years" (本命年) are advised to visit a temple to "appease the taisui" (安太歲), the god of the current constellation.

This ceremony is traditionally performed at a temple, but Lukang's Matzu Temple is offering an online service this year that will enable the devout to beat the new year crowd by registering for the ceremony remotely for NT$600.

Apart from those born in pig years, "snakes," "tigers" and "monkeys" are also considered in potential conflict with the taisui this year, the temple's Web site said.

In addition, the site also allows busy celebrants to purchase luminaries online. A lamp bearing the purchaser's name will be offered to the appropriate gods on his or her behalf.

Appeasing the taisui online is by no means the only modern service for those with traditional beliefs in Taiwan.

Several Internet sites -- including www.fateasia.com and www.clickfate.com.tw -- have been serving the online fortune telling market in Taiwan and beyond for almost a decade.

"We began the service in order to serve the fortune-telling needs of overseas Chinese," said Bruce Young (楊博如), the founder of www.clickfate.com.tw, "but our services are also popular with Taiwanese because we offer convenient access to fortune telling masters."

Young said that his customers provide all the information they would to a traditional fortune teller -- name, gender and time of birth.

"Our services are popular with younger people because they're more comfortable with the Internet," Young said.

Young is not worried social changes will leave fortune-telling behind.

"Kids might try tarot cards or Western astrology for fun," Young said, "but when it comes to important life events such as selecting a good name for a baby, the belief in traditional astrology is still strong."

Yang He-peng (楊鶴朋), one of the leading fortune tellers with Young's service, said those who find their signs in conflict with the taisui should not worry ... too much.

"The taisui ceremony is a tradition and people undergo it for peace of mind," Yang said, "but a same-fate year can be extremely prosperous for many people."

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