Temple's lucky rush shorter

Local | Amy Nip and Chuck Pang 26 Jan 2017

Pilgrims to Wong Tai Sin Temple can offer their "first incense" to their god much quicker this Lunar New Year after the route from the entrance to the altar and a big incense holder was reduced by operator Sik Sik Yuen by half to two meters.

People rush to be first with their incense in paying tribute to Wong Tai Sin right at the start of the Lunar New Year - 11pm tomorrow - as they believe it will assure them of good fortune.

The temple will then remain open overnight, and opening hours are being extended to 6.30pm until February 12.

Believers can also pay homage to Yue Lao - "The Old Man Under the Moon," who is the Taoist god who watches over marriages - tomorrow night.

They can take pictures with the god's statue, upload them to the temple's social media platforms and collect free souvenirs.

There will also be a new electronic fortune stick-reading system from mid- February. Each stick drawn will include a radio frequency identification tag, and people can put the stick on a reader to check their fortunes.

There are three readers in the temple, and there will not be a charge for drawing a stick or for the fortune reading service.

Also starting this year, people aged from 17 to 60 can go through a ritual to acknowledge Wong Tai Sin as their godfather. That expands on a scheme started last year to bond youngsters from three to 16 with the deity.

Wong Chun-fu, who readers fortunes in the traditional way at Wong Tai Sin, said he was in no position to comment on the modern advance as he has not tried it. But he is confident people will stick with familiar fortune tellers because they offer personalized services and references.

Back to worldly street action in Tsim Sha Tsui, more than 3,000 performers and 10 floats will feature in the Lunar New Year parade. About 150,000 people are expected to line the route from the Cultural Centre to Middle Road on the first day of Year of the Rooster, the same number as last year.

Cathay Pacific, the parade's title sponsor, will have a float accompanied by 80 dancers in male-female pairs selected from staff. Disneyland's float will be led by superhero Iron Man, while Ocean Park, celebrating 40 years in business, will have an anniversary- themed float with new mascot series Whiskers and Friends.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board's float features 20 Lego-style figures representing walks of life in the SAR while its Macau counterpart's float is based on the Rooster of Barcelos, a favorite emblem of Portugal and associated with saving a man wrongly sentenced to death.

There are three fewer floats this year because of a temporary loss of space with the renovation of the Museum of Art, but there are 500 additional performers.

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