An Overdue Thank You

14 June 2019

The temple’s intricate stone and wood works have calming effects on me. I felt unusually solid even though I was physically tired from climbing the steps.

Wudao City God Temple (浯岛城隍庙) is located in Houpu (后浦)the birthplace of my grandma. “Wudao” is the old name of Kinmen Island. A “city god” in Taiost beliefs is a protector deity of the city, ensuring its environment and inhabitants live in harmony.

The temple dedicated for this purpose of peace & protection for all is more than 300 years old. In fact it just held its 339th year of celebration on 22nd April this year.

Otter name conferring contest was held alongside the temple’s 339th year of celebration showing that all lives are sacred.

One of its recent temple celebratory activities was to organise a name conferring contest for two otter pups in order to highlight the challenges faced by the Eurasian otters that share the waterways of Kinmen Island.

Stepping into this temple was like stepping back in time. I know that the furnishings in the temple and architecture have been renovated many times, but the space where my grandma and her family members would have visited is still the same.

In this space I can connect with all my ancestors who have ever prayed at this temple.

In the sunny afternoon with beams of light filtering in from the openings above the temple, I walked about and imagined what it might have been like a 100 years ago in that space where I was.

As I rested my tired legs, wafts of incense fragrance mixed with the familiar smells of joss paper offerings made me feel homey and at ease. When I touched her silver belt which I had kept in the pocket of my denim jeans, I connected with my grandma across time.

At the Protector Deity seated in the centre of the altar I gave thanks for His protection & blessings on the 7-year-old child bride who was born in Wudao in 1914, grew up to become my grandfather’s wife, became my dad’s mom, was widowed and became my grandma before passing on at 77 in 1991.

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