Our instincts were right. Giving a proper welcome to the god of money/fortune/prosperity turned out to be huge in Shanghai, as momentous a bang as greeting the new year itself. I do wonder how overwhelming bursts of firecrackers can be counted on both to drive away evil spirits and welcome the desirable god, but so far no Chinese friends have explained why the evil ones aren’t welcomed and prosperity driven away….
On the afternoon of Day Five of the New Year, the day prosperity arrives, we headed to the Jade Buddha Temple. We expected to find a hubbub, but not the line we encountered to buy tickets to get in. It moved quickly. Inside, the courtyard was crowded. The incense vendors were doing a brisk business.Some people lit the long sticks,while others burned pieces of paper with writing on them (prayers?).Elsewhere, some people were attempting to boost their good luck by trying to get coins to stick to the surface of various carvings and other adornments,and were, of course, offering prayers to the divinities.I sometimes hear that, in modern China, nobody believes in “those old superstitions” any more, but you could have fooled me. Anyhow, when it comes to prosperity, why take chances?
As we walked away, I noticed that my purse and our jackets were lightly covered with fine cinders, sprinkled by the light breeze. Oddly appropriate since, where I come from, it was Ash Wednesday.