Fonglin Temple to hold last ritual before relocation

By Hung Chung-hung and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Wed, Nov 08, 2017 - Page 4

Kaohsiung’s 320-year-old Fonglin Temple (鳳林) is to hold its last Taoist communal offering ritual before it relocates with the rest of Dalinpu Village (大林蒲), temple managers said on Monday.

The communal offering ritual known as Jiao (醮) — a 10-day event — is scheduled to begin on Dec. 9 and is expected to be the biggest in the temple’s history, temple chairman Hsu Mu-cheng (許木成) said.

On Dec. 6, the villagers are to begin adhering to a strictly vegetarian diet for eight days, while the communal offering ritual is to be performed from Dec. 9 to Dec. 14, followed by a procession on Dec. 16, Hsu said.

A troupe of more than 200 performers from all over the nation are to join the festivities and the temple plans to lay offerings on more than 3,000 tables for the ghosts of the land, he said.

Last year, the Executive Yuan decided to subsidize the relocation of Dalinpu Village after two polls showed that about three quarters of the 20,000 residents wanted to move from the heavily polluted area.

The ancient temple’s relocation with its village has drawn significant attention from the nation’s religious community, as well as the fact that Fonglin Temple last performed the communal offering ritual in 1906, he said.

The temple’s caretakers received a vision from its three martial guardian deities — Chu Wang-ye (朱王爺), Wen Wang-yeh (溫王爺) and Chih Fu Wang-yeh (池府王爺) — in which the gods made a special order, saying the temple needs to bring relief to the gods of nearby Hongmaogang Village (紅毛港), a community that has recently relocated, he said.

The relocation of the village and its gods left the region vacant of divine succor for its wandering ghosts, whom Fonglin Temple must take care of, he said.

The Chu Wang-ye icon in April ceremonially toured the former sites of Hongmaogang’s five temples to complete the relief, he added.

Fonglin Temple was founded by Dalinpu’s gentry in 1697 and it houses several valuable historical relics from that period, including an old incense burner, the seal of the temple and a bronze bell manufactured by the Dutch East India Co.