Kaohsiung ‘spiritual rooster’ crows ‘no’ to offering

By Wang Jung-hsiang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Dec 03, 2012 - Page 3

A rooster that was to be offered during a ceremony to “open the eyes” of two deity statues in Greater Kaohsiung recently escaped a knife to the throat by crowing a sound similar to the word “no” at the Fengyi Temple, a center of worship for Taoist deity Jigong (濟公), in Kaohsiung’s Fongshan District (鳳山) on Wednesday.

The temple committee had decided to bring in the statues of two other deities, the Jade Emperor and Guanyin, and perform an eye-opening ritual on them.

According to common religious practices, an eye-opening ceremony is performed by a Taoist priest on newly carved sculptures of deities to endow them with spiritual properties. During the ceremony, the blood of a rooster’s cockscomb is used as an offering to the gods.

Taoist commandments stipulate that the roosters must be set free following the religious rituals.

In some cases, the animals flee the scene of the ceremony.

However, just as the Taoist priest was preparing to cut the rooster’s comb with a knife, it started repeatedly crowing a sound similar to buyao (不要, meaning “no” in Mandarin).

Although the priest still carried out the blood sacrifice after “communicating” with the terrified rooster, the animal was later adopted by the temple authorities and named Hsiao Ling (小靈).

Temple director Chang Wei-sheng (張為盛) said he and his wife had noticed the rooster’s strange sounds when they purchased it from a market.

“We didn’t take the sounds seriously at the time and even made a joke, telling the rooster we only needed a few drops of its blood for the ceremony and that we would not kill it,” Chang said, adding that the rooster also seemed to respond to him by crowing a few times.

Chang said he was surprised to hear the rooster making the strange noises again at the ritual and he told the animal: “If you’re willing to stay, I will adopt you.”

The rooster did stay after the blood sacrifice and was not frightened away by a powerful drum performance during the ceremony.

Chang then kept his word by keeping the “spiritual rooster.”