Temple of… Love?

(with apologies to ace band Sisters of Mercy, for stealing the title of their best track for the title of this post)

Rather than trudge the streets of Shanghai in aimless fashion, today I went out with purpose.

Now let’s remember that I’m in the bosom of the communist People’s Republic of China, right?

Right.

I decided to visit an obvious anachronism, the Buddhist Jing’an Temple.

Yes, that’s right.

A Buddhist temple.

In communist China.

Hmm.

Anyway.

From outside, the first thing one sees are the golden temple guardians, atop of their commanding viewpoint.

Temple dogs, Shanghai

Inside, the open air courtyard is awash with the smell of burning incense.

Clouds of incense, Jing'an Temple, Shanghai

The worshippers buy bundles of incense sticks, and set fire to the whole bundle.

Sometimes they carry the bundles around, stopping at points of devotion, where they will then stand, with the non-lighted end of the sticks on their forehead, while they bow and pray.

Amongst the points of worship is this impressive ‘lucky jade stone’.

Lucky jade stone, Jing'an Temple, Shanghai

I spent about an hour wandering around the temple.

It felt odd, being in such a religious place in the middle of communist China.

But as a place to watch devoted Buddhists at worship, it was a very interesting visit.

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