Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Devotees vie to be first at Longshan's annual lighting event

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Devotees wait in line in front of Longshan Temple in Taipei City’s Wanhua District yesterday to register for the guangmingdeng lighting event ahead of the Lunar New Year. The lights are thought to ensure a bright year ahead for their sponsors.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

A dispute broke out in front of Taipei City's Longshan Temple early yesterday morning as hundreds of worshippers vied to light the first 1,000 good-fortune luminaries — a Taoist ritual believed to bring good fortune and ensure a smooth year.

Known in Mandarin as guangmingdeng (光明燈), the ritual draws hundreds of people to local temples each year as the Lunar New Year approaches.

As one of the major temples in Taipei, Longshan Temple began to accept registration from worshipers at 7am yesterday, but devotees had already formed long lines outside the temple four days ago.

Verbal clashes ensued when some tried to jump the line.

“Go back and wait in line!” several followers shouted at a middle-aged woman when she tried to cut in.

Some also shouted at the temple workers and urged the temple to increase registration slots for the day after it announced that the 1,000 guangmingdeng quota for the day was reached at 8am.

The temple later agreed to accept 300 more registrations.

Waiting in front of the temple four days ago, a devotee surnamed Huang (黃) was the first to register.

Huang said he wanted to show his strong faith in the gods by striving to become the first to register for the guangmingdeng.

“I register to light a guangmingdeng at Longshan Temple every year for my family. It's an important ritual, and it will give us a good and smooth year,” he said.

The temple says there are three types of guangmingdeng: the “study light” to bless students with wisdom and good grades; the “career light” to protect jobs; and the “prosperity light” to bestow riches in the new year.

Another popular yearly ritual is the An Tai Sui (安太歲) service. Those whose zodiac signs are in conflict with Tai Sui — the god who rules over all deities — perform this ritual to appease the god and pray for his protection.

Chang Hsue-ling (張雪玲), director of the temple's administrative affairs, said the service attracts crowds every year, but urged devotees not to rush to light the guangmingdeng.

“The temple prepares enough number of guangmingdeng for our followers, and we've asked them not to register on the first or second day, but they never listen,” she said.

Chang said the temple also offers online guangmingdeng-lighting and An Tai Sui services, encouraging the public to complete the ritual online.

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