Over the Lunar New Year weekend Vivian Choi made her annual visit to Wong Tai Sin, one of Hong Kong’s largest Taoist temples, to ask for blessings in the new year. But instead of burning dozens of incense sticks in the age-old Taoist tradition, Ms. Choi slipped a written prayer into a small box. An electronic deity statue then lit up and blew artificial smoke, signaling the acceptance of the offering.
As worshippers welcomed the Year of the Rabbit, Wong Tai Sin temple in Kowloon ushered in a new era of its own: high-tech Taoism.
For 100 million Hong Kong dollars US$13 million, the 90-year-old temple created a underground prayer room — decked with gold and marble and equipped with LED lights and motion detectors — just in time for the Lunar New Year holiday, which started Feb. 3 and is expected to draw more than a million visitors to the temple over two weeks.
The 10,000-square-feet chamber, which took three years to complete, features a vaulted echo-enhancing ceiling emblazoned with a planetarium-like digital replica of the Hong Kong sky that rotates in accordance with the seasons. Two HK$3 million floor-to-ceiling wall hangings, made of marble and rare gemstones, adorn the entranceway. Worshippers enter the hall and deposit a written prayer before one of 60 statues representing the gods of the Chinese zodiac, which responds with flashing lights and bursts of smoke.