Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Hopeful mothers worship at twin statues

By Tsai Meng-shang and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A row of sweet yogurt drinks are left on Friday as offerings in front of statues of children by a well in Baoshan Township, Hsinchu County.

Photo: Tsai Meng-shang, Taipei Times

A pair of stone statues, featuring a set of boy and girl baby twins, has become a popular shrine attracting visitors from afar to a water well in Baoshan Township (寶山), Hsinchu County.

The area’s townfolk said they welcome visitors, however, they added: “Please spare the offering of the yogurt drinks. They are not needed.”

Rumors surfaced earlier this year that this particular set of stone statues could make wishes come true, for example for women seeking to become pregnant and for delivering offspring to couples unable to have a child. People believe that for the wish to be granted, it is most propitious to place an offering of Yakult — a popular probiotic drink in Taiwan and Japan — in its plastic bottle.

Baoshan Township Mayor Fang Yu-yen (范玉燕) said it has long been local folklore that drinking the water from this well could produce twins.

“And yes, we do have a high ratio of families with twins in our township,” she said.

“The well was covered up and not used for many decades, but due to road construction, the well was reopened in 2009,” she said.

“The boy-and-girl twin stone statues were made and placed next to it in 2009, as a new ornamental enhancement to the well,” Fan said. “They are stone statues, and not deities. We are not sure why people started the offerings of Yakult yogurt drinks for worship.”

Baoshan Village warder Tien Huan-chen (田煥禎) was also mystified.

“In the past, people would put lollipops and candies onto the hands of the statues to take photographs. However recently, word got around that Yakult yogurt drinks can encourage a successful pregnancy, so now the practice has been sustained for some time,” Tien said.

Yet it has all become a big headache for the elderly volunteer whose job is cleaning the water well and its surroundings.

“Now, we are getting more of the drink offerings, almost on a daily basis,” Tien said. “Some people do their worshiping with a whole row of Yakult yogurt bottles, and all with straws inserted.”

“It is a problem, because after a hot sunny day, these sweetened drinks are warmed by the high temperature and they become sour. Many flies are attracted here due to the odor, and this creates bad hygienic conditions and an unpleasant sight,” he added.

“The effectiveness of placing Yakult yogurt drinks for worship is only a rumor, I would say. Perhaps someone thought that kids like the drinks and connected it to the twin stone statues. So maybe it got started that way,” he said.

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