Zuoying City God Temple / 左營鳳邑舊城城隍廟
Zuoying City God Temple
◎Text by Kuan-Chun Chen ◎Photo Courtesy of the City God Temple at the Old Fengshan city and Chung-Hui Pao
The six-day tour of the City God (Cheng Huang) of Zuoying finished officially on January 6. On that Sunday, thousands of pilgrims from other twenty-two City God temples of Taiwan gathered in the Lotus Pond neighborhood to express their respects to the City God, who has been listening to people's voice here since the Cing Dynasty.
According to Mao-Sheng Jhuang, the Chief Secretary of the City God Temple, the City God gave instruction about the tour and the starting date through the incense burning last year. Since the seven-day tour for celebrating the three hundred-year completion of the Temple in 1994, this is the first tour and demands a working staff of six thousand.
Before the tour, the leading gods patrolled in the temple court. Then, supporters lifted the sixty-kg golden City God statue from the black wooden palanquin and announced the start of the tour. During the six days of tour, the City God patrolled the eleven neighborhoods under his control. Areas include the Kezailiao in the north, south to the Pingtung Harbor, east to Dingjin and west to Neiwe in Kaohsiung. The tour exhibits the diverse religion art and people's love toward the City God.
On the last day of the tour, twenty-two City God statues from Taipei and Penghu gathered in the Lotus Pond neighborhood and were carried in turn to the temple court to show their respects. As the sound of gongs and drums and the fireworks thundered, the surrounding area was crowded by pilgrims and temple priests. The Tour Committee also prepared a dinner feast for everyone that night.
According to the Chief Secretary, the temple, rebuilt in 1968, was originally completed in 1704 and was just a cottage on the Pizihtou in Fongshan County.
During the Japanese colonial era, in order to promote its colonization policy, the Japanese government burned down the temple. However, the main statue remained unhurt. The golden main statue was about two hundred cm in height with movable limbs. After the World War II, the Japanese Government was collecting metals but still not dare to destroy the statue.
The golden statue, created by a Chinese sculptor, is the largest City God statue in Taiwan. Unlike other City God statues in Taiwan, this wooden statue has movable limbs because of the tenons inside. The palanquin of the City God was originally made of metal, but was later melted by the Japanese government to manufacture weapons. Therefore, in 1918, the palanquin was remade with black wood.
Inside the temple, there is a giant abacus on the beam of the temple. The abacus was carved with three words "Ask Your Heart" to remind the visitors to ask themselves if they have done things right when they enter the temple.
In addition, there's a couplet written by the honored scholar Jhao-Chang Jhuo in 1741. The main idea is: "Good deeds will be paid off with properity. If not, then your ancestors must have done something bad. When you pay off their debts, prosperity will come to you. Evil behaviors results in destruction. If not, your ancestors must have left you virtues. When their virtues are out, you will face destruction." This couplet indeed expresses the Chinese traditional karma concept and reminds everyone to always perform good deeds.