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Town God Temple

In almost every large and medium-sized city in China, one can find a Chenghuang Temple or Town God Temple. In the temple, sits a statue of the town god. Usually, there are one or two sacrificial ceremonies each year. The ceremonies are important occasions for both old and young.

Who is the town god?

In the old days, people imagined that the city was protected by a god known as Chenghuang (town god). Under his protection, people could live peacefully. Chenghuang's duty was just like that of the county head in feudal China. Taoists accepted him not only as an executive but as a law officer as well. It was believed that Chenghuang was empowered by the celestial ruler to exterminate evils in towns and cities and make citizens live a prosperous and happy life. He was even capable of granting what people prayed for. He gave rain when it was too dry and gave sunshine when there was too much rain. He brought big crop harvests for farmers and flourishing business for traders. As historical records indicate, the first known Chenghuan Temple was built as early as 239 A.D in the Three Kingdoms Period.

Interestingly, the town god had his mold in the practical society. The mold was always a hero who had done a lot and sacrificed his life for the public. People honored him as a god and believed that he would bring them peace and happiness. That's why the town gods in different cities often have different looks. Even today, every year at a fixed time, people come to the temples and show their respect for their protectors by kowtowing and offering some sacrifices. Chenghuang is a god in Taoism, but monarchs of different faiths in history all put him in a very important position.

Here is a large picture of the Chenghuang Temple in Changzhi, Shanxi Province.

Written by our column writer Ye Qinfa.

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