Red Brick Daily
In the traditions of the Taoist-Buddhist-folk religions of the greater China area … it’s bad luck to abandon an icon or statue of a deity.
Here in Taiwan, it’s the same: once a god is “enshrined” in a temple or area, moving it (except for a few exceptions when gods are paraded or ‘visit’ another temple) isn’t considered a good idea.
But the worst sin of all would be to leave a deity alone, with no one to venerate or clean it from time to time … it’s not just bad luck, it’s a kind of betrayal.
Over the past 17 years, Wong Wing-pong — a retired Hong Kong butcher — has been a “god rescuer” … giving a home to abandoned gods on a rocky slope near the waterfront in Wah Fu.
Wong, 85, found his first few abandoned gods on the rocky perch and turned it into what today is a tourist site for those who want to see his impressive collection of thousands of statues of deities, including of Jesus and various Christian saints … as well as icons from other religions.
Why would one abandon a god?
Let’s say you’ve had a large ‘bai bai’ table in your living room for 30 years, but you’re selling the house and it’s going to be renovated … plus the young new owners aren’t big on alters. Perhaps you convert to Christianity and your pastor suggests you remove your large Taoist statue. Or maybe you had a baby and need that alter area for a playroom … these and a thousand more scenarios have given Wong his thousands of abandoned gods.
These days people know of him and bring their icons to his sanctuary. Wong says he treats all with respect, fixing any that need repairs and cleaning them occasionally as tradition commands.
People do offer donations and Wong says some come to pray at the site from time to time.
Wong’s novel vocation gives him peace, he says. And might make an interesting site to see next time you’re on a Hong Kong visa run.
(Phots via Shanghai Daily / OddityCentral.com / Apple Daily)