Originally a camphor tree that later blossomed into two redbud trees, the Wishing Trees at Lam Tsuen, Hong Kong are a must-see for anybody visiting Hong Kong.
The Wishing Tree has its roots near the Tin Hau Temple, which was built by the local fishermen to worship the Goddess of the Sea, Tin Hau. Soon after its construction, a massive typhoon destroyed the temple, but the village of Shau Kei remained unaffected. Locals believe that Tin Hau absorbed all the destruction and protected the people and their lands. Since then, this has been a place of worship and belief for everybody. There are stone lions carved outside the temple which is a sight you should not miss.
The tree’s colourful history has many legends associated with it. One talks about a poor worshipper, whose son was not good in academics. It is believed that he magically showed progress after they worshipped the tree. Legend also says that the original tree was burnt in an accident, and in its place grew two redbuds, which soon blossomed into the present Wishing Trees.
Every year, wish-makers and believers travel to Lam Tsuen for good fortune. The Tree is believed to have magical powers to grant wishes. It has long been regarded as a deity by locals, who light candles and burn joss sticks at the root of the tree to worship the Goddess. The tree looks colourful and bright all year round because of the scrolls tied to it. People tie paper scrolls with their names, date of birth and wishes. These are called “Bao Die”. They usually tie it to orange weights and throw it up into the tree. It is believed that if the scroll does not fall down, the wish will be granted. If it falls down, the wish was a greedy one.
The two trees serve different purposes. One is for personal wishes, while the other is for wealth and progress. The Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree is covered with Bao Die throughout the year, as a result of which, the tree became extremely fragile. The tree collapsed in 2005, hurting two tourists. Since then, the practice has been discouraged by the authorities. They have placed wooden brackets instead for tourists to hang their scrolls.
An epitome of belief, worship and faith, the Wishing Trees and Tin Hau Temple are two spots in Hong Kong that you must visit, irrespective of whether you have a wish to make or not.
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