Lui Cho Temple
Perched at the foot of the Fu Tei Au mountain for over half a century, the Lui Cho Temple (Deyang Hall) has been Fu Tei Au Tsuen’s most familiar landmark. The establishment of the Lui Cho Temple was patronized by 11 villagers who were originated from Chaozhou in conjuction with the birth of Fu Tei Au’s first Hungry Ghost Festival (aka Yulan Festival). The emergence of the Fu Tei Au Tsuen Hungry Ghost Festival was unintentionally derived from a chit-chat conversation between several villagers in 1966 who wished to pay tributes to the souls lost in and around Fu Tei Au. It was then when they decided to hold the first annual festival on July 14 of the Chinese lunar calendar the next year. During the festival, villager Mr. Fong proposed to invite Lui Cho to be the village’s deity. With all in favour, Lui Cho has thenceforth been recognized as Fu Tei Au’s deity who watches over the village. The temple dedicated for his veneration was founded 2 years later in 1969 and has been the designated venue for hosting the Hungry Ghost Festival ever since.
Regardless of the village’s agreeable welcoming of Lui Cho, it was later transpired that the Lui Cho Temple had faced many obstacles before settling into its final look as we see today. Due to limited resources and capital, the temple was started out as a simple shack made out of woods. It was taken down and rebuilt later on because of violation of land use, and was wrecked again by typhoons some years after. The temple most recent renovation took place during 2015, and was celebrated for its re-opening in 2016.
Apart from its religious value, the temple has stood for more secular purposes. What may seem like a serene rural village today was actually a place frequently bombarded by deadly floods throughout the last century. Given the curvy features of the once meandering Ng Tung River, river water tended to overflow especially during rainy season, causing large-scale floods in this basin-like landscape. Such perilous natural hazard had almost become habitual to villagers at Fu Tei Au despite how frightening and troubling it was for them to maintain their properties – crops were likely to be inundated while great number of livestock were usually lost when flooding occurred, all of which were important lifelines for these subsistence farmers. People who resided along the lower course of the river inevitably suffered significantly as higher water volume and discharge carried downstream. To weather through such imminent danger, these residents were used to flee their homes with their neighbours to higher grounds such as the Lui Cho Temple, and waited out the storm together. As a result, the temple has since then taken up a more literal symbol of protection in the village irrespective of nowadays much mitigated flood impacts since better flood prevention programs were in placed after year 2000.
To date, the temple still serves to worship Lui Cho, a significant figure in Taoism history, but it is also a public open space that gathers current and former villagers together in countless occasions such as Yulan. Having withstood multiple reconstructions since its establishment in the ‘60s, villagers have insisted to keep it unlocked 24/7 to perpetuate its symbolic meaning of a welcomed shelter for those in need, just as how it provided safe harbour to residents in times of flood. Although not as extravagantly built as other temples, Lui Cho temple has witnessed the changing dynamics within the community and become part of the irreplaceable collective memories among the residents, a tangible structure that unquestionably carries sentimental meanings and holds dear to the living.