Visit to the KanTi temple in Mamao : a Chinese New Year Custom
Wednesday 13 February 2008 by legendary_totoro
Xin Nian Kuai Lok ! Kung Hi Fat Tchoy !
Translation : Happy Chinese New Year ! Best wishes (prosperity & hapiness) !
2008 is the Chinese New Year of the Rat, but as far as I know, it’s not a particular year aside from the fact we’ve entered a new cycle of 12 animals. If you need know more about the cycles of the chinese zodiacal signs, please visit this quick link or this one or this more detailed one.
When new year comes, it’s an old custom to go to the temple and pray the Gods to give you their protection.
You usually go to the temple 1 week before the year ends to thank the gods for the protection they provided for the past year. Then you go again as soon as possible after the new year has come to make offerings so that they will renew their protection for the upcoming year.
I went there last week-end so here’s my little report.
Here in Tahiti, we only have one temple (if I’m correct), which is the KanTi temple. KanTi (also known as Guan Gong) was a famous hero from the period of the 3 Kingdoms (when China was divided in 3 parts). He was renown for his courage, loyalty and generosity and thus became the Chinese equivalent of the God of War.
In the temple, you’ll find various statues of Chinese antique’s Gods, but don’t worry, a clerk is here to make sure you pray in front of the right statues.
The 3 most important statues represent KanTi (center), Matsu Gniong Gniong, Goddess of the Oceans (left) and Tchong Ten Sou, tao master who fends off evil spirits (right).
All around the temple are placed the altars of several minor divinities which can depend on the local myths and legends.
EG : Here in Tahiti, there’s the sad story of Chim Soo Kung who gave himself in after some tragic street fights (involving dead people) and took all the blame on himself so that his companions wouldn’t get in trouble.
Another notable example would be the altar dedicated to the 100 first chinese families that emigrated to Tahiti.
I took a picture of the altar of Guan Yin, Goddess of Mercy. It’s not the biggest one but I found it to be the most luminous and decorated one for some odd reason.
After a little ritual, which is performed to ensure the Gods will give you their protection, you have the possibility to consult the Oracle. The Oracle will give you a prediction that contains general outlines of the year to come. To start the consultation you’ll need to provide names, birth date, and place of habitation. The Oracle will then make some calculations and shake a round box which contains 100 bamboo sticks, one for each person demanding a prediction. He’ll make some more calculations and after that, you’ll hear what’s coming up.
I got my own prediction which announced an average fortune (not bad but not excellent in terms of luck and happiness) for the year to come. It said I’m supposed to have a big plan that would not succeed in the early months of the year but I’ll encounter someone that will help me during the second half of the year. Not completely bad IMO but don’t pay too much attention if you don’t recognize your personnal situation...
There are other customs and traditions associated with the Chinese new year but since there were elections last week-end, they were postponed to the coming week-end (Feb 16th and 17th). I’ll see you there ;)