After being shunned for decades because of a local superstition, the Great Buddha in Changhua County has begun attracting couples with the beautiful scenery atop the newly reinvigorated Baguashan (八卦山).
According to legend, couples who visit the massive Buddha sculpture are destined to separate, as the Taoist immortal and infamous playboy Lu Tung-pin (呂洞賓), who is known for dismantling romantic relationships, is also enshrined in the temple.
The superstition is strengthened by another legend that a couple died after hanging themselves from the statue, leading residents to either warn couples against visiting it or suggesting taking a partner there if they wish to break up.
Photo: Chang Tsung-chiu, Taipei Times
However, over the past few years, the Changhua County Government has worked to reinvigorate its most famous tourist destination.
In collaboration with the Changhua City Government, it has organized Valentine’s Day and singles events at the plaza in front of the Buddha and enlivened its often-ridiculed market.
At the forefront of its newfound popularity is the new Guashan Village (卦山), which houses 20 shops featuring local artists, and hosts a variety of arts and crafts activities.
Photo: Chang Tsung-chiu, Taipei Times
The city government’s efforts have paid off with rising visitor numbers, transforming the staid attraction into a hot spot for young travelers — especially couples.
On White Day on Sunday, the mountain was packed with visitors enjoying the nice weather.
Among them was a couple wearing traditional Indonesian wedding attire, accompanied by friends and a photographer.
The newlyweds made their way from the archway near the visitors’ center to Nine Dragon Pond, stopping to take photos and receive good wishes from passersby, the Great Buddha omnipresent behind them.
A friend of the couple said that the two would often come with friends both before and after getting married.
To them, the Great Buddha represents Changhua, so they decided it would be the perfect spot to take wedding photos, they added.
The newlyweds said they had never heard of the legend, but would not believe it even if they had, as superstitions have no place in a rapidly advancing society.
“So many people come to take wedding photos,” Baguashan Great Buddha Scenic Association chairman Chang Shih-liang (張世良) said.
People are conflating the Taoist immortal Lu with the legends about him that flourished during the Song Dynasty, he said.
Lu was just a pleasure seeker, not a relationship destroyer, Chang said, adding: “Legends are not facts.”
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