Thien Hau Temple, A Temple that is dedicated to Mazuadmin / December 19, 2018
Traditional Taoism is the oldest system that contained the past beliefs of the Chinese. During that period when this system was applicable when both the shamanism and pantheism were common.
Some of the components that were in this system include the repeated occurrence of seasons, life and death of conscious human beings and their continuous generations. Another major component of this system was the mystery of the life origin. In the traditional Taoism, there were some scriptures like the I Ching where most essential readings appeared.
This scripture was composed of 64 hexagrams with each one of it carrying six yang lines. In this scripture, the readings included images, solutions of some problems, and the interpretations of the readings.
Due to the challenges of the ever-changing world, the people who were responsible in to providing solutions started seeking for unity and continuity among the people. High expectations of finding solutions in Tao were among the traditional thinkers. There were three known sources of Taoism in the traditional china, the first source was the ancestor whose name was the yellow Emperor who came up with the use of traditional Chinese medicine.
His wife was also famous through her act of teaching other women on how to obtain silk from silk worms. Through yellow emperor and his wife, there was introduction of the first Chinese characters. The second source of Taoism is the book “Tao Te Ching” the old book that contained supernatural issues, and its author was Laozi.
The third source was Chuang Tzu together with his book that was eponymous. Apart from these three major sources, other sources came up later introducing other traditional aspects to the system.
Taoism has influenced the culture of china for long period. The influence of Taoism came in different forms for instance, by philosophy, literature, and at times use of arts. Taoism also made some emphasize on getting the freedom for the human kind, understanding the human nature, and tried to obtain human retirement from the social works.
Taoism as well tried to bring the mystery and many questions relating to religious into light for everyone to understand. By use of arts, Taoism divided the life of the educated people into two groups such as social group and a private one.
The life of the educated people made use of the arts during their free time to pass different messages to other people in the community. For instance, a person may volunteer to make use of calligraphy or paintings to express a certain idea to the illiterate people in the community.
The use of poetry by these people was also common to interpret or clarify a certain aspect of life to their fellow leaned Chinese. Some educated Chinese went to an extent of conducting some researches on medicine that was useful for human use, and later passing the findings to the others through use of arts.
Between 1940 and 1982, Taoism faced many challenges in china whereby most of its operations remained stack for a long period. Most of their priests and other men who were working in church found themselves working in odd places as casual laborers without receiving any recognition as priests.
There were mass destructions of the infrastructure that were using, together with their holy sites. In 1982, some leaders started recognizing the importance of this tradition religion, and some of its aspects began restoration. Some of the Taoism temples started their operation, and continued to preach peace and unity among the Chinese people as it was doing before. Up to date Taoism is still a common belief in china because it has more than one billion followers. Globally, it is the second largest religion.
There was a major debate about the Taoism whether being a philosophy or a religion. Most of the people from western see Taoism as a philosophical aspect because Lao Tse and Zhuang Zi did not talk anything about worshipping or performing rituals, and they are the major people in Taoism.
On the other hand, some people refer it as a religion because the work of Lao Zi involved some rituals, and mentioning of works of gods. The debate leaves the relationship between the Taoist religion and Taiost philosophy being hard to understand. In this debate some sense of religious practices are present, and some arguments of philosophy are there. However, most of the religious practices originate from the background of Taoism.
Thien Hau Temple is among the most popular places of worship in china, it mostly devotes its worshipping activities to Mazu who is the goddess of the sea, and other cultures that relates to the sea like fishing or sailing in a boat. This temple was originally a church but later became a temple for celebrations, receiving blessings, and giving offerings as well as performing rituals.
The religious activities of this temple are also devoted to Guan Yu who is the famous god of resolving conflicts, righteousness and promoting a good relationship among people.
The other god that is involved in the Thien Hau Temple is Fu De who is the god responsible of the earthly materials like wealth and other beneficiaries. In this temple, the Buddhists have a site of worship.
The management of this temple is under Camau Association of America although it receives some other support from East Asian communities. One of the most important celebrations done in the temple is the celebration of the Mazu birthday on March 23 of every Lunar Calendar.
Many believers from all over the world come together, to share the happiness of this important day. The day is marked with different types of foods, lion dances, and other interesting games. Birthdays of Fu De, Guan Yu, and Dizang are also performed in this temple but not as big as of that of Mazu.
Another difference between the traditional Taoism temple and Thien Hau Temple are the activities that take place in each temple. In Thien Hau Temple, members from different societies meet in the temple to receive blessings as they perform some religious rituals. Many people gather to praise deities, while lion dancers perform continuously as a way of chasing evil spirits.
There are representatives from over 25 families who are supposed to gather with the rest of the community to light the firecrackers at midnight as a sign of celebrating Chinese New Tear.
Starting from the first day of the year to the fifteenth day, the ceremony continues out side the temple. Experts play drums and bells, as people specialize with vegetarian foods. On special days, people slaughters a big animal like a pig, roasted but they eat it away from the temple as a way of showing respect to the Buddhists.
Once the first fifteen days are over, people from different communities come together again to show their money needs to Mazu, as they give her what they had promised towards the year-end. Thien Hau Temple hosts even other types of ghost festivals for the communities to celebrate. The honor given to Mazu in Thien Hau Temple is out of her silence, which came from the fact that she did not cry when she was born.
Mazu was the seventh daughter in her family and her father and brothers were mostly fishermen. She was very courageous to take care of the fishing tools that her brothers were using. She used to guard even during the most risky moments. After her death, several fishermen and other sea workers decided to honor her acts.
Her identification color is red, which she used to wear most of the time. During her celebrations in Thien Hau Temple, her courageous acts are an inspiration to many people within the community.
Guan Yu is another god, a famous historical figure in East Asia, well known by his efforts during the civil war that resulted to the end of the Han Dynasty in china.
His efforts and contributions assisted in setting up the kingdom of Shu. That is why people called him the god of war, and receives much respect as he showed loyalty and righteousness. His symbol is a warrior with long beard, and holding weapons with his face painted red as a sign of loyalty.
His involvement in this royal fight did not lead to destruction of the kingdom but to the improvement of it. Some people expected the worst from this conflict but Guan Yu fought a fight of wisdom and full of righteousness. Many people honored him and that is why he is a celebrity in the Thien Hau Temple up to date. Fu De is a special earthly god worshipped by both the religion worshippers in the Thien Hau Temple and the Taoists. He is a god of wealth and riches and commonly found in every village to cater for the common affairs.
The major challenges that faced most villagers were agricultural and weather related problems. Although his powers were minimal, villagers were nowhere to turn for help. During the hard times of drought and famine, Fu De was the only hope for the people within the community. To some extent, his powers saved people in several cases, and that is why people decided to be honoring his acts.
Today his image is preserved in several altars, and house doors, where people go to beg him for wealth and their family wellbeing. His image portrays an elderly man, with white beard, executive hat, and a robe to show his administration aspects.
The Taoism Temple devoted most of its activities to Laozi who was the known author of Tao Te Ching book. His popularity came because of the fact that his conception took place while her mother was looking at a falling star. Another extra ordinary fact about him is that people believe that he stayed in his mother’s womb for 62 years.
There was also a super natural power during his birth as his mother was leaning against a tree. During that time, people knew him as a grown man, with grey hair and some physical appearances that showed his wisdom and ability to live long.
Some people regarded this as being reborn. According to her famous traditional sources, he is referred as the keeper who took good care of the royal court records. Through keeping watch of this royal court, he learned a lot from the Yellow Emperor and other wise people.
Although he was a man full of wisdom, he did not open a school but many people were seeking knowledge from him. He was a teacher to many students who were admiring his life, and wanted to be like him in their future lives.
Even royal disciples followed him for some pieces of advice and knowledge. Laozi had a wife and a son who later became a famous soldier. Although a great debate took place over whether Laozi issues were true or force, he remained someone worth celebration.
Most of people claimed that it was hard to prove his history, although some of his acts remained memorable up to date. Laozi is celebrated, as he was the founder of Daoism, a major religion that has many followers. During the time when Daoism became strong and gained some followers, people started recognizing his efforts and he became a god.
A sector for Daoists that was performing religious rituals and worshipped god emerged through which the Daoist tradition grew and developed. It reached a place where people started seeing Laozi as a personification of Dao, but Laozi claimed to have gone through many challenges to reach to such a point.
Despite all the arguments against Laozi, he became famous day after day especially because he founded the Daoism. He is the major god in Daoism who these believers trust and solves much of their problems.