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CatholicNews ■ Sunday August 5, 2007 11

The roof is often an image of a Ling, famed for his promotion of


sacred mountain, an abode of the Taoism.
immortals. The figurines that To a Taoist, death is not the Other important Taoist dates
decorate the roof depict legendary ending of life but the beginning include the seventh day of each
figures and heroes of sacred of the next stage in life, the month when it is believed that
myths. At the top of the roof are spiritual stage. Taoists believe seven celestial Taoist gods, known
usually two dragons looking at that the yang component in each as the seven Northern Dipper Star
each other over a flaming pearl person comprises three Hun Lords, enter the Mortal World
located in the centre. This pearl souls and the ying component (earth). Taoists believe that when
represents the pure energy (chʼi) comprises seven Po souls. The they recite the Great Northern
that emanates from the incense three Hun souls form the skeleton Dipper Scripture on this day, their
burner in the temple. and the seven Po souls make up sins,debts and sufferings will be
Taoists pray to the gods, and the flesh. At the death of a Taoist, reduced and they will be blessed
to their ancestors too as a mark of a ritual is undertaken to let the with longevity.
deceasedʼs three Hun souls be The festival of the “Hungry
transported to the other world. Ghosts,” celebrated on the 15th
However, the seven Po souls are day of the seventh lunar month,
believed to linger after death and is, perhaps, the most famous
The Three Pure Ones – known as Jade Clarity, Highest Clarity a ritual is required every seven Taoist feast in Singapore. It
and Supreme Clarity – were formed by the breath of Tao. days to send one of these seven marks the birthday of the Earth
They are at the top of the Taoist pantheon, just below Lao Tzu. Po souls to the other world. Official, who judges the dead.
Their main goal is to save mankind by teaching kindness. Only at the end of 49 days, is the Devotees take part in good
deceased fully at rest in the other works, fasts and rituals to seek

Taoism is polytheistic. Taoists


believe in many deities and
immortals. Its gods are believed
to be pure emanations of Tao.
Immortals are humans who have
achieved eternal life through Taoists offer joss sticks in
the cultivatiion of Tao, and, honour of their ancestors, or to
particularly, through meditation, pray for a special intention.
physical training, breathing
techniques, the ingestion of
elixirs, and moral behaviour. respect. Prayer is also a form of
Immortals dwell in the heavens, cultivating the Tao. When Taoist
on mountains, and in other priests recite the scriptures and
magical paradises. chant repentance rituals, they are Male and female Taoist priests conduct rituals side by side,
At the top of the pantheon beseeching the gods to erase sins evoking the Heavenly Spirits or Celestial Masters, according
is Lao Tzu, revered both as and, at the same time, spreading to the particular celebration.
the first god of Taoism and the the teachings of Tao. Taoists
personification of Tao. He is believe that reciting the scriptures
followed by the Three Pure can dissolve misfortune,
Ones whose main goal is to save eliminate illness, prolong life and world and capable of blessing the forgiveness for the sins of their
mankind by teaching kindness. benefit health. descendants still living on earth. ancestors, obtain his mercy for
Below them are thousands Taoists also worship immortals, them and ask him to lead them to
To a Taoist, ancestor worship
who are humans who have
of gods with numerous titles, promotes harmony and peace the heavenly realms.
achieved eternal life through
qualities and functions and the cultivatiion of Tao. within the family, reaffirms the These devotees pacify the
who are worshipped at various family identity and maintains the The most important date for hungry ghosts by praying,
ceremonies throughout the year. order of succession. Fruit offerings, Taoists is the birthday of Lao chanting and offering food and
Taoists usually worship in characteristics of the palaces of the burning of paper money and Tzu on the 15th day of the second other things to them so they will
their own home or in the temple. imperial China. The principal door paper houses, and the lighting of lunar month when Taoist temples have what they need to survive
The temple is believed to be the of the temple opens toward the joss sticks are some intrinsic Taoist and organizations honour him. and move on to their next life.
residence of a heavenly official (a south and the temple walls on either practices. They symbolize respect, Another important Taoist feast In Singapore, it is common to
god belonging to the Jade Clarity side often have the images of the gratitude and pride in oneʼs roots is held on the 18th day of the fifth see joss sticks lit, wayangs (street
realm and who confers blessings). Green Dragon (representing yang) and, at the same time, serve as lunar month to mark the birthday theatre), feasts and auctions
The temple is usually built with the and White Tiger (representing ying). requests for good luck and fortune. of Heavenly Master Zhang Dao during this period. ■