Friday, February 4, 2011

Chegong (Che Kung)

Great Marshal Chegong (Che Kung)
(Image: Apple Daily 蘋果日報)

The 2nd day of the first Chinese lunar month is celebrated as the Birthday of Chegong (車公誕 Chegong Dan), a popular Taoist and folk deity in Hong Kong where he is known as Che Kung (車公) in the Cantonese language. Chegong was a military general of the Southern Song dynasty in 12th century China who was known for his bravery and loyalty to the Song dynasty. One of the events that marked his career was safely escorting the two young princes Zhao Bing and his brother Zhao Shi to southern China where they would later become the last two reigning emperors of the Song dynasty before the Mongol takeover. He was also known for his healing skills, and many people came to seek him for successful cures to their health problems. After Chegong’s death, he appeared in the dreams of many people who lived in Shatin (in present day Hong Kong) where a plague was miraculously ended. It was believed that divine intervention from Chegong helped save the villagers and he was later deified by the Taoist religious community. Today, there are two temples in Hong Kong devoted exclusively to the veneration of Chegong. Fan-bladed wheels of fortune and pinwheels are popular at the temples where spinning them three times is believed to bring good luck. The Chegong temples are especially popular around the time of the Chinese New Year.

Spinning a fan-bladed wheel of fortune for good luck
(Image: Oriental Daily News 東方日報)

Souvenir Fan-bladed Wheels of Fortune
(Image: Apple Daily 蘋果日報)

Text © 2011 Harry Leong

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