New Beitou uncle – The history of Huangtian Fuyou Temple

TAIPEI (The China Post) – Located in the Beitou District of Taipei City, Huangtian Fuyou Temple is nearby the New Beitou MRT Station and where devotees primarily worship Fudezhengshen.

The small temple has more than a century of history; the “Huangtian” namesake of the temple also recalls a history that has almost been forgotten.

 

When BobeeNOW visited Huangtian Fuyou Temple, we noticed that there was no chief in the temple. Past experiences taught us that any temple with a certain history or scale is usually managed by a temple chief.

After offering up incense and notifying the gods of our intentions, a well-aged man came into the temple and began cleaning up with an air of familiarity.

We asked him if he was the temple chief and he replied: “We don’t have a temple chief, everyone is a volunteer at Fuyou Temple.” This old man, surnamed Lee has lived near Huangtian Fuyou Temple since he was a child, and everyone calls him “Uncle”; he is currently retired and helps out at the temple during his free time.

“Huangtian Fuyou Temple has a long history expanding more than a century.” He points at a sign that reads “On September 7, 2015 the Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government recognizes that Huangtian Fuyou Temple (Cultural Heritage Historic Building) shall be preserved.”

It turns out that this temple has been announced as a cultural heritage and is one of the religious centers in the area.

The mention of “Huangtian” in the temple’s name relates to the nature of irrigation waters which contain sulfur that bars ordinary crops from growing, thus the namesake “Huangtian”.

However, this type of water was optimal for growing salt grass (galingale), a beautiful material that was used to braid durable straw mats. They were exported to the U.S. and Hong Kong during the 1950s but disappeared after 1956 due to decreased production; they are rarely seen nowadays.

The main deity of Huangtian Fuyou Temple is Tudigong, but devotees call him “Bogong”. There is a total of 5 statues, nicknamed “old ancestor” to “fifth ancestor” by believers.

Of the five, the most precious is the stone carved “old ancestor”, otherwise known as “Bogong” who has protected the residents of the area since the late 1800’s. Then, “second ancestor” to “fifth ancestor” were carved for sacrificial needs.

 

“Uncle” told us that Huangtian Fuyou Temple has a stone incense urn that was carved at the same time as “old ancestor”. People worried it would be damaged, so it was carefully preserved in the storage room.

“Uncle” opened the storage room with passion, which is why BobeeNOW was able to view this stone urn, which is a part of the cultural heritage.

Huangtian Fuyou Temple continues to follow annual customs of processions, inviting Guandu Ma, Beitou Ma, Tamsui Qingshui, and Jade Missus from Yunu Temple to participate. Huangtian Fuyou Temple also never misses the great yearly prayer festival in Beitou.

While Huangtian Fuyou Temple is located on a small plot of land, its’ believers are very pious. During the interview with “Uncle”, followers continued to stream in, paid their respects and joined in the conversation which was mostly related to the miracles of “Bogong”.

Most stories involved sickness or disease that gradually disappeared from the body after praying “Bogong”. These seemingly insignificant stories are the foundation for the construction of a strong faith.