JUST THE TIME FOR A PRAYER : TAIWANESE TEMPLES, BETWEEN FULLNESS AND EFFERVESCENCE
In Taiwan, the main religion is Taoism. Thousands of disciples come to pray and meditate every day in one of the nine thousand temples of the island. In Taipei, the capital, the Longshan temple attracts many visitors every day, not only because it is one of the oldest temples in Taiwan, but also because it is one of the best preserved and restored over the years and the earthquakes.
A strong smell of incense emerges from the temple. While we are expected to enter into a peaceful and quiet place, this is a surprising atmosphere that overwhelms us: people are scrambling, circulating in all directions, and in the courtyard religious songs resonate, sung in heart by dozens of people. They sing and bow to the rhythm of ringing bells and beating drums, completely out of time. It is a gathering place, invaded by a wave of serenity and spirituality despite the hubbub of visitors.
This atmosphere is caused by the diversity of those present persons. Old people who discuss together, children having fun and do not apply to the same concentration as their parents, or others who answer the phone between prayers with incense sticks in the other hand.
But when visitors turn to one of the many deities of the temple, it is with high respect. Despite the noise around them, nothing disturbs the faithful. As this young woman who reads the scriptures, or those who, kneeling on the benches, cast divination blocks to question the gods on their future. Just the time for a prayer, because then, agitation comes back by going to the next altar, and throughout the day, at the rate of the people who enter the temple.