Relationships and marriage tends to be something that Asian people look to the deities for a definite answer. Even though the younger generations have successfully gained their freedom on choosing partners, the deities and the praying process is still considered as a boost to your luck in love.
Who said the love of god has to be a baby half naked? Image by martinak15. CC:BY-SA
The main god that’s commonly being introduced as the Chinese Cupid is Yue Lao, the matchmaker who’s officially the deity of love and marriage in the Chinese mythology. He’s the one who ensures that every single man and woman gets directed or appointed to their other half. In the legend, he has red threads that’s invisible to humans but tied on their wrists, and the end of one person’s red thread eventually leads to their lifelong partner’s wrists. As for connecting who to who, the matchmaker has a book with all the couples’ names on it in order for him to keep record of all the couples.
Whether you choose to believe it or not, it’s a place to experience the Taiwanese culture and how cultural tradition has influence the importance of marriage and partners in Taiwanese culture. The temples introduce below has a steady crowd of believers and couples do come back to offer food and gifts as the matchmaker put them together. There are two annual celebrations on the western Valentine’s Day and the Chinese Valentine’s Day where couples come to get blessed by the matchmakers.
Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple
This is perhaps the biggest Yue Lao Temple in Taiwan in terms of visitor count. Many of the localized tours would also stop by here but it’s an interesting area of Taipei that a backpacker can explore in depth the last century of Taipei. On the outside, this temple is tiny and nothing major compared to other temples you’d seen on the island, but there’s a lot of people coming to return their wishes or pray again for a different purpose. For a English description on how to pray and send your wish to the correct deity in the temple click here. Around the temple is the area called Da Dao Cheng, which is an area full of traditional food and gifts purchasing stores including Dihua Street full of dry goods to Yongle Market of textiles. After sending out your wish for a perfect partner, take some time to roam around and enjoy the red brick buildings and cafes.
Taipei Xia Hai City God Temple. Image by MiNe. CC:BY-SA.
Taipei Lung Shan Temple
Lung Shan Temple isn’t exactly a temple for Yue Lao the matchmaker, but the multiple deities that are being worshipped in the temple are all considered very effective so the matchmaker is along line of gods popular in the temple. If you want to pray to the matchmaker and asked for a good marriage, then you can ask for the red thread by casting the moon blocks and getting the divine answer three times means the matchmaker approves of your request for a husband/wife. Something to note is that if you’re simply looking for a boyfriend or asking to improve your relationship then simply light the incense then pray to the matchmaker, tell him your name, where you live, and what you’re looking to achieve.
The Moon Blocks that people use to cast their questions to the deities. Image by momo. CC:By-SA
The praying process and different channels to protect or search for a relationship may be religious, but the cultural effects are definitely stronger in terms of the society today. The matchmaking process shouldn't necessarily be taken as a Daoist only thing, it's an unique culture developed due to people's needs, and even visitors with different religions are still humans down the roots, so it really should be considered as a cultural experience instead of what it used to be. Next time you're in Taipei and bored of taking pictures, give these activities a chance!