In the heart of the bustling financial district of Hong Kong you’ll find an oasis of calm: The Man Mo Temple. Two very different deities are worshiped here: Man Cheong, the god of literature, and Mo, the god of war. The temple was built in 1847 during the first years of the British colonial era in Hong Kong.
The temple is located on Hollywood Road and forms the extensive Man Mo Temple Compound together with Lit Shing Kung and Kung Sor, from which it is separated by narrow alleys. Lit Shing Kung was built for the worship of all heavenly gods, while Kung Sor, to the west, was a hall where the Chinese community gathered to discuss and resolve social issues and problems.
Outside the temple are dozens of soothsayers who are happy to tell visitors about the future. Inside is the penetrating aroma of sandalwood and incense. The latter is due to the scores of incense spirals hanging from the ceiling: This is one of the most famous aspects of the Man Mo Temple. The Chinese have been burning these spirals to attract the attention of the gods since time immemorial, which is why they are also known as ‘food for the gods.’ The spirals sometimes remain lit for weeks, making for an amazing spectacle.
Around the complex are many shops selling combustible items in the most unusual shapes. The Chinese believe that they can send relief and happiness to their loved ones long after their death: Anything that cannot be included in a grave can later be ‘sent.’ Look out for paper cars, VCRs, banknotes and much more besides, which can be burned in special furnaces located in the temple.
The temple is a fine example of traditional Chinese architecture and decorated with impressive sculptures, carvings and colourful murals, all wonderful examples of real Chinese craftsmanship. The colours red and gold dominate, and with good reason – the Chinese believe they represent luck and prosperity.