The famous Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple has cancelled its annual Chinese New Year incense offering ceremony, which usually sees devotees thronging the temple at midnight on the first day of CNY to jostle to be the first to plant incense offerings.
This tradition, also known as tou xiang, will not be happening this year at the temple at Waterloo Street, as it has scrapped the event on Feb 11 to prevent overcrowding (read more here).
But one temple has decided to go ahead with the ceremony — online, that is. Yup, you can still try to be among the first to offer joss sticks to deities in the first hours of the Lunar New Year at Heng San Tian Temple, where the annual tradition will take place on a website called LetsGoBaiBai.com.
From Feb 8, devotees can ‘chope’ the first joss sticks to be placed at Heng San Tian temple in Ang Mo Kio on midnight on the first day of CNY (Feb 12). The ceremony will be livestreamed on LetsGoBaiBai.com and the temple’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/hengsantian.sg/) from midnight on Feb 12.
And it’s all for a good cause. All proceeds from this initiative between the temple and local advertising agency GOVT will go directly to Beyond Social Services which helps low-income children and youth.
There are only 88 joss sticks available, and visitors can contribute $88 to $1,888 for them. Of course, the earlier you want your joss stick to be offered up, the more it’ll cost.
Those who do not wish to offer joss sticks can donate any amount of their choice as well. Devotees can also write down their wishes and blessings for the temple to pray on their behalf during the first hour of CNY.
This isn’t Heng San Tian temple’s first foray into the digital world. The temple may have been around for 77 years, but its third-generation owner Johnson Tan (main photo) has been bringing some religious traditions online. He has streamed prayers on their Facebook page, and is the man behind an online store that sells joss offerings.
More info at www.letsgobaibai.com.
Photos: GOVT, screenshots