Published: April 17th 2009April 17th 2009
The Man Mo Temple
is dedicated to the God of Literature, Man Tai, and the God of War, Mo Tai. Man Tai is symbolized by a pen, and Mo Tai by a sword, bringing to mind the obvious question “Is the pen mightier than the sword?”
Man Tai is the patron of students and civil servants, and students will bring offerings before exams. Mo Tai is the patron of policemen, the military, and, oddly, pawnshops. I’ve read that Mo Tai is based on the real warrior Guan Yu who lived around 220 AD.
The Man Mo Temple is a busy place. Inside, huge incense cones that can burn for up to three days hang from the ceiling, filling the air with smoke. Pretty much every one who comes in lights at least three joss sticks. (Joss sticks are always burned in groups of three to ask for blessings - or forgiveness - for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Considering the number of joss sticks some people were lighting, they had a lot to be forgiven for.)
The temple also contains a remembrance hall, where plaques inscribed with the names of the dead are placed. Much like a cemetery (minus
the bodies) this is a place where people can come to remember their relatives who have died.
Another reason that people flock to Man Mo Temple is to have their fortune read. An attendant will hand you a container with numbered bamboo sticks. Shake it until one of the sticks fall out, and hand that back to the attendant who will then give you a slip of paper that corresponds to the number on your stick. Take that slip of paper to the fortune teller who will tell you your future.
Out of curiosity, I had my fortune read. I expected the usual happy talk “You will fall in love; you will come into money; you will have good fortune...” You know what I mean.
However, when I handed my slip to the fortune teller, and after determining my Chinese astrological sign, he looked at me and said “This is not a good year for you. Money will be difficult, and any major decision you make will probably be the wrong one. If you are employed, do not change jobs, and do not move to a new house. Your health, however, is very good, and you should
live into your 90s with no major problems.”
Interestingly, about a week later I was in Singapore where a Sikh stopped me on the street and told me pretty much the same thing. (Of course, he then asked for S$50 to tell me the rest of my fortune, an offer I declined.)
The temple is located off Hollywood Road, and there are a lot of interesting sidestreets to explore. It's an easy walk from the Star Ferry Pier. Hong Kong, February 2009
There are more photos below