In Taiwan, there are numerous temples and all kinds of gods. Each god has a specific purpose and power. As new missionaries with OMF in Taiwan, we recently visited a temple that is dedicated to health and Baosheng Dadi, a medicine god. This god was a doctor during China’s Song dynasty. I call this temple “the doctor’s temple.”
In front of most temples in Taiwan is a large gate, which symbolizes the entrance to a spiritual realm.
Outside of this temple, there is a hotel for those visiting from out-of-town. In front of the temple is an oven to burn money for deceased relatives and a large table to leave offerings on, fruit or other food.
Like other temples, this one has three doors. People enter through the door on the right (known as the dragon door) and leave through the door on the left (the tiger door). The central door is reserved for the god’s use.
Inside, Taiwanese troubled by sickness seek help and/or advice from Baosheng Dadi. In early days, the temple staff even wrote prescriptions. But today there are laws that forbid this. So, Taiwanese ask the god for advice on which hospital to go to for doctor appointments and surgery. Many people also ask Baosheng Dadi for healing.
People often donate money to the temple in an effort to obtain the god’s favour. This is regarded as a simple trade. If I give you this money, you’ll give me what I ask for.
As new missionaries, we are new to Taiwanese culture as well as to Taiwan’s languages. We want to deeply understand the worldviews and beliefs of the people we live among. Visiting temples like this one is a good way to learn about Taiwanese perspectives on religion.
– Chris, Culture & Language Learner