CORONAVIRUS/Zinan Temple will not hand out lucky coins this year due to COVID

01/23/2022 07:59 PM
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CNA photo Jan. 23, 2022
CNA photo Jan. 23, 2022

Taipei, Jan. 23 (CNA) Zinan Temple (紫南宮), one of the largest temples in Taiwan worshipping the god of land, will not distribute commemorative lucky coins on the Lunar New Year's Day, which falls on Feb. 1 this year, due to a worrisome surge in domestic COVID-19 infections.

The temple, located in Zhushan Township of Nantou County, has also decided not to hold its traditional "chih ting chiu (吃丁酒)" feast on the 16th day of January in the lunar calendar this year.

The two activities are the temple's most important and popular traditional annual practices, and will be halted this year for the very first time.

Temple management committee chief Chuang Chiu-an (莊秋安) made the decision on Sunday morning after praying to the land god on whether to organize the two events this year, according to the temple.

The decision comes after the Ministry of the Interior announced on Saturday that religious activities at places of worship that attract large gatherings such as parades and rushing to burn incense sticks and can not keep social distancing well maintained, will be suspended.

For any activity that could attract more than 500 attendees at places of worship, organizers need to present an infection prevention plan and will only be permitted to proceed with the agreement of the local government, the ministry said.

In past years, tens of thousands of people would queue in front of the temple on Lunar New Year's Day to get their hands on lucky coins, called "mother money (錢母)" or "money-making money (發財金)," which are believed to invite wealth and bring good luck.

Then on the 16th day of January in the lunar calendar, the temple would host a "chih ting chiu" feast, treating worshippers with sesame oil chicken soup, a Taiwanese dish prepared with sesame oil, chicken, ginger, and rice wine.

A huge event that attracts a lot of people from around the country to Zinan Temple every year, the feast started from a practice by temple worshippers of presenting chickens as offerings to the god of land on the 15th day of lunar January if they had given birth to a baby boy in the past year, to express their thanks.

Using the offerings, the temple would then serve its worshippers chicken soup the following day. The feast became so popular that 100,000 people came to get a taste of the free soup at the temple in January 2019, one year before the pandemic struck the world.

However in 2021, the temple held the lucky coin distribution and feast activities in a much reduced form, with worshippers being given frozen soup to take away instead of being consumed on-site.

Epidemic control restrictions have been tightened after the number of new locally-transmitted COVID-19 cases rose to 82 on Saturday, the highest single-day record in 2022.

On Sunday, Taiwan reported 89 new COVID-19 cases -- consisting of 52 domestic and 37 imported cases -- bringing the total to 18,325 since the pandemic began in early 2020, of which 14,903 were domestic infections, according to data from the Central Epidemic Command Center.

With no deaths reported on the day, the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the country remained at 851, the data showed.

(By Hsiao Po-yang and Elizabeth Hsu)

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