Learn which of the Chinese gods in Hong Kong you should appease
To Tei Kung 土地公
The Earth God takes on a few forms, but the bearded happy looking fellow is usually found by the door of Chinese temples. Often shown as a man holding a gold piece, he is an ancient god responsible for the wealth of the land and agriculture. In villages, a shrine to She Kung, Pak Kung or Fuk Tak are found at entrances and roadsides. These local area deities are manifestations of To Dei Kung and protect the village and its immediate surroundings.
Choi Sun 財神
While the God of Wealth has no major dedicated temple in Hong Kong, he is one of the most important figures in the Chinese pantheon. Often playing second fiddle in temples to other gods, his altar is usually filled with offerings. There are various incarnations of the god and more than one story about his background. There is a civil God of Wealth and a martial God of Wealth and some villages have shrines to him.
Kwan Tai 關帝
Originally the Three Kingdoms Period general Guan Yu, this war god is found in many temples in Hong Kong. The bearded, red-faced warrior is a patron of fraternities and is the god of both the police and the triads. Often found in businesses and homes, Kwan Tai is a martial protection deity loved by Chinese people throughout the world. In Hong Kong, he is sometimes called Mo Tai and, along with Man Tai, the civil examination god, is worshipped in Sheung Wan’s Man Mo Temple.
Pau Kung 包公
Justice Pau was a magistrate of the Song Dynasty in Kaifeng, China. In a job that was considered to be filled by corrupt men looking to fill their pockets, Bao Zheng, as he was known in life, was just character. The upright, fair and honest man stood up for the poor and was not afraid to fight against corruption, even within the imperial household. The black-faced deity is prayed to for solutions to legal problems and for justice and fairness.
Kwun Yum 觀音
The goddess of mercy has a very long and complex history. She started as a male Buddhist bodhisattva and over time turned into a female over several hundred years. Her huge popularity in China, led to her being brought into the Taoist fold and also into Chinese folk religion as the Goddess of Mercy. Highly popular, Kwun Yum is one of the most iconic Chinese deities. In Hong Kong there are several temples to the goddess, but one of the most unique is the Lin Fa Kung temple in Tai Hang.
Pak Tai 北帝
Known by many names, Barefoot Northern Emperor, Mysterious Warrior and Supreme Emperor of the Jade Void, this god rules the Dark Heaven. Pak Tai is a winter deity and is always depicted barefoot with a turtle and snake. Originating in the Shang Dynasty, he is a powerful martial god with the awesome powers of exorcism. There are a number of Pak Tai temples in Hong Kong, including the beautiful one in Wanchai, but the Jade Void Palace on Cheung Chau is famous for its annual bun festival.
Hung Shing 洪聖
Often called Tai Wong, this god is a sea deity, particularly responsible for the Southern Sea. Due to his function as a protector of sailors and fishermen, this Tang Dynasty official has many temples in Hong Kong. Frequently located on the shore, so as to look out over the people he presided over, his temples are popular with non-seafaring folk also. The Hung Shing Temple in Wan Chai is now positioned inland due to land reclamation.
Che Kung 車公
A general during the Song Dynasty, Che Kung is sometimes known as the Great Warrior. His loyalty to the emperor was unwavering and he helped to bring the child emperors to Hong Kong after the Mongols invaded China. He is prayed to for health and luck and the pinwheels in his temple are spun by his worshippers to get better or richer. There are a few temples with his effigy in Hong Kong, but the Che Kung Temple in Tai Wai, near Shatin, is the biggest and most popular.
Wong Tai Sin 黃大仙
Originally from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, this mysterious immortal has become a Hong Kong powerhouse. In the early 20th century, a Guangdong man and his son came to Hong Kong to set up as traditional medicine practitioners. They brought with them a picture of Wong Tai Sin and hung it in their shop. Over time, people began to pray to the immortal for health and eventually, a shrine was built to house the image. The shrine became a temple and today, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of the biggest and most popular in Hong Kong.
Tin Hau 天后
The most popular deity in Hong Kong, with over 80 temples dedicated to her, is the sea goddess Tin Hau. Her name means Empress of Heaven and from lowly beginnings as a mortal in Fujian Province, her amazing deeds in life caused her to be deified. Rising through the heavenly ranks, she became Celestial Consort and then finally Empress of Heaven. She principally looks after sailors, fishermen and seafarers, so it is clear why she has such a powerful presence in Hong Kong. Her appeal is now universal and the goddess is the ruler of Hong Kong in the hearts of the people. Protected by her two demonic bodyguards, the mother goddess stands watch over Hong Kong and its waters. While there are so many Tin Hau temples, the three biggest are Tai Miu in Joss House Bay, Tin Hau Temple in Causeway Bay and the Tin Hau Temple Complex in Yau Ma Tei.