Thu, Jan 10, 2013 - Page 4 News List

New Taipei City focusing on religion

NEW PUBLICATION:With more than 1,000 temples and churches, plus 3,000 Taoist shrines and two major monasteries in the city, religion was a natural focus

By Tseng Te-feng and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

People gather at Ci-Hui Temple in New Taipei City’s Banciao District on Wednesday last week. The temple, which is dedicated to the “Old Man under the Moon,” who according to legend unites people in marriage, attracts numerous visitors on Valentine’s Day every year.

Photo: Tseng Te-feng, Taipei Times

The New Taipei City (新北市) Government last week launched a bimonthly journal focusing on interfaith worship, religious festivals, ritual ceremonies and sacred shrines around the city.

The Chinese-language journal, which debuted on Jan. 2, is called Bo Pi New Taipei City (保庇新北市).

Bo pi is the Taiwanese way of referring to divine protection.

Readers can turn to the journal to learn about the diverse religious cultures in the city, city officials said.

Those looking for divine blessings and guidance on gaining wealth, having a son or daughter, finding a lover or job prospects, can find advice in the journal, they said.

According to the city’s Civil Affairs Bureau, New Taipei City was the original starting place for migrant settlement and opening up new lands in northern Taiwan hundreds of years ago.

With such an historic and cultural background, it has an abundance of Buddhist-Taoist temples and Christian churches.

There are 952 registered temples and 120 churches, including 160 Buddhist-Taoist temples that are more than 100 years old, the bureau said.

There are also more than 3,000 Taoist shrines, called shentan (神壇), as well as “deity worship associations” (神明會) under the city’s supervision, the bureau said.

Two of the nation’s five major Buddhist monasteries are located in New Taipei City: Dharma Drum Mountain in Jinshan (金山) and the Ling-Jiou Mountain Monastery in Gongliao (貢寮).

Surveys by the bureau suggest that on average, there are two temples, shentan or churches per square kilometer around the city — with their highest density in Banciao (板橋), Sanchong (三重) and Yonghe (永和) districts.

Hsichih (汐止) and Sansia (三峽) districts have the highest number of registered temples, while Wulai District (烏來) has the fewest registered temples.

The top three deities worshiped in the city’s Buddhist-Taoist temples are the Earth God (土地公), Kuanyin (觀世音) and Matsu (媽祖), government surveys showed.

“From the establishment of these temples and churches, we can follow the historic and demographic development trends of our city. They are also the focus of important local festivals that preserve and pass down the cultural traditions and ritual ceremonies with their unique regional characteristics,” said Chiang Chun-ting (江俊霆), head of the Civil Affairs Bureau.

The bureau has also created a calendar listing temple festivals and religious celebrations for this year, which will be made available online as well as in Bo Pi New Taipei City, he said.

“This way we can introduce the public to the many unique temple festivals and religious celebrations around New Taipei City,” Chiang said.

Bo Pi New Taipei City will be published every other month, on the 20th, and will be available at libraries, local district offices and district household registration offices. It is also produced in ebook format, which can be downloaded at www.ca.ntpc.gov.tw/24;data_pagenode/details/.

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