Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Chinese God of Community

Gods living with us
There are many people that are fascinated by the myth and legends surrounding famous gods like Monkey King, Guan Yin or Guan Yu. There are also the so calls, not so famous gods living with us, they are the community gods. Among them are the Town or City Gods (城隍 Cheng Huang) as well as the Earth God.(土地公 Tu Di Gong)

In the usual case, the Earth God would report to the City God. Earth itself refers to a specific place or a location. A particular building, room or territories and terrains within a certain compound are some examples of a place or location.

City God's Job
The City God on the other hand is like a guardian that protects, blesses and watch over that certain particular City which in inclusive of the welfare of the residents living inside the city. Communal requests such as need for rain and personal requests from the people and officials living in the city are also the job scope of the City god.

The City God will be approached by the residents in many scenarios such as when there natural disasters struck and the residents are in need of help, residents who would want to recover from the illness/sickness that they are struck with, and even cases when the residents who have been wrongly accused for crimes and who wants to have their innocence proven.

There are times in which the local official or magistrate of the city would pray to the City God for help, guardian or advice in the governing of the city especially during the ancient times. There are a lot of City Gods in China and some of them are known by different names. Much of these City Gods are deceased spirits of important people in the city such as officials, previously.

These spiritual deities held onto important divine bureaucracy positions and some would debate that they held more power than the local human officials. Others would view that relations between the local official and the City God is invertible. The two could just work hand in hand to govern the City together.

A famous Shanghai Temple dedicated to the City Gods
One of the most famous City God Temples of China would be the Cheng Huang Miao (城隍庙) of Shanghai and it is one of the must see tourist attractions if you were to visit Shanghai.

This City God Temple is in dedications to 3 main Gods who are:
Huo Guang (? - 68 BC) a Han dynasty Chancellor
Qin Yubo (1295–1373) a Chief Imperial Examiner of the Ming dynasty
Chen Huacheng (1776–1842) a Qing Dynasty General that defended Shanghai


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