Double Tenth Day, the celebration of the Wuchang uprising, or 228 which marks the slaughter of 10,000 innocent Taiwanese are “political” holidays. The other holidays are religious in nature.
New businesses are often opened with a blast of fireworks and the traditional lion dance. The purpose of the lions is to drive out and devour evil spirits. Building are designed with Feng Shui principles, (yes, Feng Shui is religion) designed to insure prosperity or harmony. It is extremely common to drive down the street and see people burning “Hell Money” to bless their dead ancestors who may be awaiting reincarnation. People care for stray dogs and remove cockroaches from the house and take them outside out of concern that they may be some poor unfortunate person doomed to that life because of bad karma in their previous life. Taiwan is a religious country.
Within a radius of ½ kilometer of my house there are no less than eight temples. This isn’t unusual. Only one of them is of any size the others are small hidden temples, dedicated to local deities. There may be others that I haven’t stumbled upon yet.
The one I most recently discovered, I found as I rode through the rice fields. I love rice fields, I like to ride through them and look at the rice. I usually do this in the early morning, when the birds are feeding there. This particular morning I was deep into the cultivated fields when I saw a couple of tombs. They were family tombs, built on the family’s fields so the family could properly care for them. Behind the tombs was the family’s personal temple. They built the temple as a way to honor their ancestors buried there. Incense from early morning worship was still burning.
There is a huge park near my home called Yang Ming Park. On either side of the park there are temples. One is fairly large and often stages temple parades and festivals utilizing the park. The other is small and quiet and I sometimes see people sitting in the shade and meditating.
Other posts you may be interested in:
Local Color: The Temples of Taoyuan City
Taiwanese Traditions: Ghost Month
Taiwanese Traditions: The Beliefs of Confucianism