Wang Ye worship
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The customary belief is that Wang Ye, or Wang Yeh (Chinese: 王爺; pinyin: Wángyé; literally: "royal lord"), are divine emissaries who tour the world of the living on behalf of the celestial realm, expelling disease and evil from those who worship them. A temple that houses a Wang Ye is generally called 代天府 (daitian fu: "palace representing heaven"), and the Wang Ye's visit is known as 代天巡狩 (dai tian xunshou: "hunting tour on behalf of heaven"), the object of the "hunting" being disease and bad luck. Such "hunting tours" take place on a regular cycle of a set number of years, usually three years.
Origins of Wang Ye worship
Wang Ye worship stems from belief in two main categories of supernatural beings, both of which are spirits of what were once, according to legend, real human beings.
The first category of Wang Ye belief began with the legend of a kind-hearted intellectual who committed suicide in a well with toxic water in it, trying to stop the villagers from drawing the well water and to stop pestilence from spreading. Therefore, to stop diseases, like pestilence, from spreading, people would pray and make offerings to those beings who committed their own lives for the public. As time passed by, these people are honored as Wang Ye and gradually became disease-dispelling gods and bringers of good fortune.
The second category comprises heroes who attained godhood as a result of great acts in their lives. An example is the spirit of Koxinga, thus honored for his role in fighting the Qing forces.
The Wang Ye
There are many Wang Ye: some traditions claim there are a total of 360, with 132 surnames among them.
Wang Ye festivals
Wang Ye festivals take place in various parts of Taiwan, mostly in the south. They generally involve processions of gods to ward away disease and bring good fortune, and end with the burning or launch of a replica boat.
One of the primary Wang Ye festivals in Taiwan takes place in the city of Donggang, Pingtung County, once every three years. The 2009 festival began on October 10 and culminated in the early morning of October 17, when a wooden boat was set on fire on the beach.
- Katz, Paul R. (2011). "Royal Lords". Encyclopedia of Taiwan. Council for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Kelly, Robert (9 October 2009). "Burning boats ward off plague". Taiwan Today. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- Kelly, Robert (18 September 2009). "Temple of Fire". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- Yang, Ching-wu; Chen, Wei-han (15 July 2015). "Tainan temple’s artwork features local celebrities". Taipei Times. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
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