Wong Tai Sin Taoist Temple

Author: Joyce Sng

Up in the mountains of Jinhua lies Wong Tai Sin Temple (黄大仙祖馆). Named after the infamous Chinese Taoist Deity, Huang Daxian or Wong Tai Sin in Cantonese, this temple is a popular attraction in Jinhua as Taoism is one of the primary religion in China. With the belief of Wong Tai Sin having the power and ability of healing, the temple attracts many tourists and followers of Taoism due to the serene environment and its abundant amenities.

View of the main temple. Source: Riccardo Giorgini

For first timers in a Taoist temple, it may be daunting to be surrounded by an unfamiliar setting. However, it is only right to behave appropriately to show respect in this religious ground. Read on to find out the basics of Taoist etiquette.

  1. Use an upturned open hand gesture to point at anything
  2. Dress appropriately, covering knees and shoulders
  3. Speak quietly, no shouting
  4. Comply to rules/signs, especially when it states, “no photo”

When walking through the premises, remember to look out for a Yin Yang platform (天音祭坛) which is enhanced beautifully by the twelve zodiac animals engraved on the circumference of the Yin Yang symbol. You will be missing out if you just admire from afar or simply walk pass it. So, go ahead and stand in the two circles, facing each other and start talking.
Spoiler alert: You will be hearing echoes. Yes, echoes. Pretty amusing, right? The said reason behind it is because of the fengshui (风水). It is quite complicated, so we will leave the rest as mystery.

Source: Riccardo Giorgini

If you have deep interest in learning more about Taoism, this temple offers cultural lectures that cover the introduction of Tao, its history and beliefs. After attending the comprehensive lectures by the passionate masters, you will leave the place wanting for more. But good news, they do have accommodation for enthusiasts! With the adequate and comfortable facilities, you may consider staying there for a few days – great getaway from city life.

Amid the calmness in this sacred site, you can find Taoist masters practicing sword (martial art)(太极剑) or performing the art of Qi Gong (气功). If you get the timing right, you may witness or even join a Taoist right in the main hall (三清殿)– don’t fret, no obligations! Disclaimer: it can be tough as you will be kneeling for quite some time.

Alternatively, if you prefer experiential learning, fulfill it by trying out the meditation sessions along with the Taoist master who will be leading them. Meditation forms a significant part of this religion as it is a practice that incorporates concentration, mindfulness, contemplation and visualization through the proper breathing techniques. Ultimately, the purpose is to calm the body and mind, find inner peace and unify the body and spirit. Definitely not as easy task because we struggled a little but it’s worth a try!

Zhizhe Buddhist Temple

Author: Shivani Talati

The Jinhua Homestay Project gives participants a glimpse of the two major religions practiced in China: Buddhism and Taoism. Zhizhe Buddhist temple, situated upon Jianfeng Mountain (尖峰山), provides for a serene and calm environment for visitors to experience the true nature of Buddhism.

A scene showing that there is no peace without chaos. Source: Vicki Hung

Though Buddism in India only worships one deity, in China major disciples of Buddhism are also worshiped for having attained enlightenment.  At Zhizhe temple, the monks told the stories about how these people attained enlightenment.

Gwan Yum, goddess of Mercy. Source: Vicki Hung

A vegetarian lunch is served at the temple. Like the monks, the meals are humble. Cooks file through the lunchroom, scooping portions from buckets into metal bowls set in front of the eater. It is to be consumed in silence so to just focus on the act, and dishes must be hand washed afterwards.

Bowls set in the lunch room. Source: Vicki Hung

For people believing in the concept of spirituality you must surely visit this place for it will provide you with the right knowledge to get you closer to connect with your spiritual self.