Tens of thousands flock to temples for luck

An estimated 70,000 people flocked to the Zihnan Temple in Nantou County yesterday, the first day of the Year of the Pig, to receive special coins and pray for wealth and fortune.

A famous Earth God temple in the county's Jhushan Township, the temple traditionally distributes a mother coin � which is believed to attract wealth and bring in more money throughout the year � to visitors on the first day of the lunar year.

A family from Keelung, surnamed Tsa, arrived at the temple at about 4am yesterday and were among the first in the line, which extended nearly 7km.

This year was the sixth time that the family has visited the temple for the coins, said 11-year-old Tsai Liang-kai, who was the first in line to receive one.

He added that the temple's director, Chuang Chiu-an, gave him a red envelope containing NT$2,000.

The temple this year prepared more than 50,000 mother coins, Chuang said, adding that the first 2,000 people in line qualified for a draw, with prizes such as gold ingots, gold rings and cash of NT$600 to NT$4,800.

Numbers 2,001 to 3,600 each received a set of commemorative coins from last year's Year of the Dog.

Aside from lucky coins, incense races are also a popular Lunar New Year tradition.

Tradition holds that those who put the first incense sticks in temple burners will have the best luck of the year.

The event, called qiang tou xiang, takes place between 11pm on Lunar New Year's Eve and 1am on the first day of the lunar year.

The Dajia Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung started letting people in for the race at 11pm on Monday.

Lin Wei-chun, a 30-year-old varnish worker, won the race to offer the first incense stick.

The 350-year-old Wufu Temple in Taoyuan's Lujhu District opened its doors to temple-goers at midnight yesterday.

To minimize accidents, the temple has since 2006 assigned a worker to collect incense sticks from people wanting to join the qiang tou xiang and put them in the temple burner together.

That way, everyone gets to be the first in offering incense at the burner, the temple said.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council