The first VNT Culture Day has taken place!
And how interesting it was from the start.
Our guide on this somewhat gray day was Marit Haighton. She took us on a wonderful journey through the variety of Taiwanese religions and gods, from a Dutch perspective.
Suppose, for example, that you want to understand someone’s religious foundation, then you can often ask in the Netherlands whether someone is religious. In Taiwan it is better to ask which god he or she prays to. For in the multitude of gods in Taiwanese religions, there is often a god that someone has a special bond with and specifically shows gratitude or asks for help.
For this tour we visited the Cisheng Temple. Mazu is located here at the headquarters. As goddess of the sea she is also central to the folk religion of Taiwan. The other nine gods in the temple presented a beautiful picture of the rich array of powers in the Taiwanese faith.
The tour led us for a long time all the gods present. Marit introduced every god to his or her place in Buddhism, Daoism or folk religion. From their own force, each god or goddess can offer support and assistance in their own field. From Guanyin for comfort and General Guan for strategy to the Medicine Buddha that can aid in healing. Wenchang Wang, the god of culture, exams and promotions, was especially popular on this day.
Marit explained to us how to pray to or greet these gods. The signature hand movements allow you to show respect while visiting a god and a temple. Marit also shared the tools to pray to a god, such as mentioning your name, date of birth and full address (after all, there are often people with the same name in Taiwan). Then you give thanks for what you have received, after which you can say or ask what you want to share with the god. Here you can choose whether you use incense.
It was fascinating to gain an insight into the religious experience of Taiwan in this way.
Afterwards we had a nice chat over a drink.
We are very grateful to Marit Haighton for her expertise and enthusiasm!