The (Chinese) questions and answers below are from the book "The Origins of Taiwanese Customs." The Chinese was written by Lin Mao-shian, and the English translation was written by me. 下列的中文問題跟答案來自於台灣民俗由來這本書. 這本書的作者是林茂賢先生. 我則是將他書中的部分內容翻譯成英文.
are chapters 25-32 from the "Folk Beliefs" section. There are 32 chapters in all. 以下是 "民俗信仰"
第二十五到第三十二章的部分. "民俗信仰" 這個單元總共有三十二章.
25. Q: 為什麼考生要拜文昌帝君? Why do students pray to Emperor Wen Chang before a test?
A: 在民間信仰中, 文昌星是專門掌管考試的神, 人們稱祂為 "文昌帝君." 古代有科舉制度, 所以考生會到文昌廟拜拜, 祈求文昌帝君保佑他們金榜題名, 文昌帝君也因此成為考生的守護神, 且流傳至今. 祭拜文昌帝君時, 除了要帶准考證影本外, 還要準備蔥 (聰明), 芹菜 (勤勞), 蘿蔔 (好彩頭), 粽子 (包中) 等. 當然, 除了祈求神明的保佑之外, 最重要的還是自己的努力唷! In folk beliefs, Wen Chang-shing is a spirit in charge of tests, and people also call him "Emperor Wen Chang." In ancient times there was an imperial examination system, and students taking the examination would go to Wen Chang's temple to pray for a passing score.1 Because of this, Emperor Wen Chang became the god which protects those who take tests, and this mark of distinction has been passed down to the present day. When praying to Emperor Wen Chang, you should bring your test registration paper2, and you should also prepare onions (which sound like "smart" in Chinese), celery (which sound like "hard-working"), radishes (which sound like "good luck" [in Taiwanese]), dumplings (which sound like "achievement")3, and other things. Of course, aside from praying to gods for protection, the most important thing is to always put forth your best effort!
26. Q: 為什麼會有 "床母?" Why is there a "Bed Mother?"
A: 床母是嬰兒的守護神, 人們會祭拜床母, 源自於古代的物靈崇拜, 認為窗戶, 門和床這些與生活息息相關的東西皆有神靈, 而小寶寶的睡眠時間較長, 自然與床的關係更密切. 據說為了方辨認不同的寶寶, 床母會在寶寶的身上做記號, 這就是 "胎記" 的由來, 也是閩南語所說的 "鳥母做記號." 如果寶寶在夜晚啼哭, 父母可以準備祭品擺在床鋪正中央來祭拜床母, 請祂保佑寶寶一夜好眠. The Bed Mother is a spirit that watches over infants. The worship of the Bed Mother comes from the ancient belief that everyday things such as windows, doors, and beds each have their own spirit, and that these spirits should be worshiped. Because babies sleep longer, the relationship between infants and their beds is even more intimate. It is said that in order to distinguish one baby from another, the Bed Mother will place a mark on each baby, and that this is where birthmarks come from. There is also the Taiwanese saying, "the mother bird makes a mark." If a baby cries during the night, the parents can place offerings to the Bed Mother in the center of the bed, and ask her to protect their child, so that it can have a good sleep during the night.
27. Q: 為什麼要拜 "地基主?" Why do we pray to the "Lords of the Place?"
A: 地基主指的是土地原來的主人, 所以搬新家時, 一定要先和地基主打個招呼, 以表達對祂的感恩; 逢年過節時, 也要記得向祂請安, 請祂保佑住在房子裡的人都平安, 順利, 祭拜地基主的時間通常是在中午過後, 天黑以前, 要準備一張矮桌, 以家中飯菜為供品, 從廚房往客廳的方向拜 (由外往內). 另外, 民間傳說地基主特別喜歡吃雞腿, 所以祭拜時, 別忘了準備一隻熟雞腿喔! "Lord of the Place" refers to the person who first lived upon a piece of land. When you move to a new house, you must first greet the Lord of the Place, and express your thanks to him or her.4 During festivals, you should also remember to ask this spirit to protect those living in your house. The Lord of the Place is usually worshiped after noon, and before the sky grows dark. You should prepare a short table, and use your home-cooked meals as an offering5 - praying from the kitchen to the living room (from the outside inward). In addition, it is a commonly held folk belief that the Lord of the Place likes chicken legs, so when you you make an offering to him or her, you should remember to include a cooked chicken leg!
28. Q: 什麼樣的人需要 "安太歲?" Who needs to "An Tai Suei?"
A: 太歲爺就是歲神, 一共有六十位, 祂們依照天干地支所配成的六十甲子輪流值歲. 由於這六十位太歲爺是依照十二生肖的順序排列, 所以每年值歲的太歲爺都不一樣, 而當年屬該生肖的民眾, 都要供奉太歲爺, 祈求祂保佑自己平安. 現在已經很少人會在家中祭拜太歲爺了, 大多會在每年過年的時候, 去廟裡安太歲. 其實安太歲同時有安穩心神的作用, 心情輕鬆愉快, 自然會覺得一切順利. The Tai Suei Grandfathers are the gods of (old) age, and there are 60 of them in total. They rotate in accordance with the "Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches,"6 through a period of 60 years. Since the 60 Tai Suei Grandfathers' positions change in relation to the Chinese zodiac, the yearly significance of each also changes. Those born under a zodiac sign for a given year should ask the Tai Suei Grandfather of that year for his protection. Very few people now worship the Tai Suei Grandfathers in their homes, and instead "An Tai Suei" in the temple each lunar new year. In fact, going to An Tai Suei can also have a calming effect on the mind, can raise your spirits, and improve your outlook on life.
29. Q: 為什麼客家人會有 "義民節?" Why do Hakka people celebrate the "Yi Min Festival?"
A: 清朝末年, 發生朱一貴, 林爽文, 戴潮春等抗清事件, 讓全台灣陷入混亂, 連官兵都無力抵抗, 各地人民只能自願組織義勇軍來保護家園. 當時, 以林爽文抗清事件的規模最大, 而新竹地區的客家義民團死傷特別慘重, 政府為了褒揚因平亂而犧牲的義士, 便封他們為 "義民," 地方上也興建了義民廟. 農曆七月二十日為 "義民節," 每年由客家村莊輪流祭拜, 已成為客家族群的重要節日之一. During the Ching Dynasty, Lin Shuang-wen, Dai Chao-chun, and others took part in one of the largest anti-Ching uprisings. This uprising caused a great deal of unrest in Taiwan. Even the officers of the empire were unable to quell the disturbance, and all that people could do was to form bands, and protect their own homes. At the same time, when Lin Shuang-wen's rebellion against the Ching reached its highest pitch, many of the bands formed by Hakka people around Hsinchu sustained heavy casualties. In order to memorialize the bravery of these combatants, the government declared that they were "righteous men" (Yi Min), and built the Yi Min Temple in their honor. The 20th day of the 7th lunar month is also the "Yi Min Festival," which is hosted in a different Hakka village every year. It has become one of the most important Hakka festivals.
30. Q: 八仙過海是指哪 "八仙?" Who are the "Eight Immortals" referred to as crossing the sea?
A: "八仙過海" 是道教的傳說故事, 民間一般認定的八仙是指漢鐘離, 呂洞賓, 張果老, 韓湘子, 鐵拐李, 何仙姑, 蘭采和, 曹國舅, 這八個代表男女老幼, 貧賤富貴的人. 祂們原本都是凡人, 在不同機緣下先後修得正果. 呂洞賓是八仙中最有名的, 還有專門供奉祂的寺廟, 不過傳說祂因為追求觀世音菩薩失敗, 所以看到祭拜者是情侶時就會心生忌妒, 故意拆散他們, 因而被稱為 "情人的尅星." "The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea" is a Taoist legend. The Eight Immortals are generally recognized as Han Jong-li, Lu Dong-bin, Jang Guo-lao, Han Shiang-dze, Tie Guai-li, He Shian-gu, Lan Tsai-he, and Tsao Guo-jiou. These eight beings represent men, women, the old, the young, the rich, and the poor. They were originally mortals, living under different circumstances, who came to different ends. Lu Dong-bin is the most famous of the Eight Immortals, and there was once a temple dedicated to him. But legend has it that he declined to follow the goddess Guanyin7, and that he would become jealous when lovers would come to worship him, and that he would subsequently cause their break-up. For this he was called "The Lover's Nemesis."
31. Q: 為什麼會有 "電母?" Why is there an "Electric Mother?"
A: 從前有一位善良的媳婦, 她平常十分節儉, 對婆婆也很孝順. 有一天, 她看見鄰居將不要的米飯丟掉, 就趕緊上前要去撿, 天上的雷公看見了, 誤以為米飯是她丟的, 認為她很浪費食物, 一氣之下就用雷把她劈死了. 玉皇大帝知道了這件事, 十分同情這位無辜的媳婦, 就讓她升天做仙, 成為電母. 從此以後, 雷公要劈雷前, 電都會先發出閃電, 好讓雷公看清楚, 不要再錯殺無辜了. A long time ago, there was a good daughter-in-law. She was usually very frugal, and dutiful toward her mother-in-law. One day she saw a neighbor throwing away some rice that he didn't want, and she quickly went over to pick it up. The Lord of the Lightning saw this clearly from the sky, and he mistakenly assumed that it was the daughter-in-law who had thrown out the rice, and thus wasted food. In his anger he struck her with a thunderbolt and killed her. Once the Jade Emperor learned of this business, he felt very sympathetic toward the innocent daughter-in-law, and he allowed her to live in heaven as an immortal. This is how she became the Electric Mother. After this, the Electric Mother would release [a flash of] lightning before the Lord of the Lightning struck, so that he could see clearly, and not mistakenly kill the innocent.8
32. Q: 為什麼寺廟會有 "建醮" 活動? Why do temples hold a "Jian Jiao" activity?
A: 建醮指的是道教儀式中 "設壇祭神" 的意思, 又稱為 "做醮," 通常在新廟落成, 或是想要祈福消災時便會舉辦此活動, 而祈福的例如祈安醮, 消災的例如瘟醮 (王船醮) 等. 一般建醮約舉行三天, 已算是大醮, 稱為三朝醮, 但依舉行的天數, 又有一朝醮, 二朝醮, 五朝醮, 七朝醮等差異, 甚至還有舉行四十九天的羅天大醮. 一般建醮期間, 住在附近的居民要吃素, 直到醮期結束. "Jian Jiao" refers to the Taoist ritual of "setting up the altar." It is also called "making Jiao," and is usually performed when a new temple is completed, or during a time of disaster. The more placid type of "Jiao" is the "Praying Jiao," while the type associated with disasters is the "Plague Jiao" (or "Wang Chuan Jiao"9). Most "Jiao" rituals last for three days, and are referred to as "Big Jiao," or "Three Jhao Jiao." "Jiao" rituals can also be held for other numbers of days, and include the "One Jhao Jiao," the "Two Jhao Jiao," the "Five Jhao Jiao," and the "Seven Jhao Jiao." There is also the "Luo Tian Big Jiao," which lasts for 49 days. During most of the "Jiao" rituals, those living nearby should refrain from eating meat until the ritual is concluded.
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1. The phrase in Chinese - 金榜題名 is a little more complicated that just "passing the test." This was something specific to the old Chinese imperial examination system. They had a big board, and if your name appeared on the board you had passed the test. It can be an idiom (成語) for passing a test, doing well on a test, or even being "set for life."
2. When you take a big test in Taiwan, you get a registration paper with your number on it. According to my wife, you bring the paper so that the god can know your number.
3. A lot of the offerings made at temples consist of things with names that sound like, or are associated with, other things. "Onion" or 蔥 (tsong) for example, sounds like the 聰 (tsong) in 聰明 ("smart").
4. I'm adding the "her" here. I think the common assumption would be that the Lord of the Place was originally a man.
5. An "offering" in this context is something placed before a god, so that he/she might spiritually consume all or part of it. Of course the god doesn't actually eat the food, and those who cooked it are free to consume it after a respectful length of time.
6. Also called the "Chinese sexagenary cycle."
7. There are many instances of this kind of behavior in Chinese religion/mythology. Older, more traditional gods and goddesses give way to a newer Buddhist deity. Kind of a backhanded compliment paid toward Buddhism, if you ask me!
8. What a weird story. So by the reasoning of this story, it's a) ok for gods to kill people for wasting food, and b) everyone who gets struck by lightning deserves it!
9. Could be translated as: "Emperor Boat Jiao."