Hun­dreds

Shanghai Daily - - HANGZHOU SPECIAL -

of mid­dle-aged peo­ple swarm at a park, post­ing pro­files of their chil­dren on walls and trees, ask­ing each other their chil­dren’s gen­der, age, ca­reer and hob­bies, and ex­chang­ing their phone num­bers for fur­ther con­tact in an ac­tiv­ity known as the “par­ents’ blind date party.”

They at­tempt to ar­range blind dates for their sons or daugh­ters who mostly fall into the “left­over” cat­e­gory (it refers to those highly- ed­u­cated and well-paid suc­cess­ful peo­ple who have not found their Mr Right or Mrs Right at an age tra­di­tion­ally be­lieved way past the best get­ting-mar­ried years), but feel too em­bar­rassed to show up in the park by them­selves.

Hangzhou was one of the first cities na­tion­wide to kin­dle this ac­tiv­ity and Yuanyuan Folk Park is a ma­jor venue for parental match­mak­ing.

Yuan in Chi­nese lit­er­ally means pre­des­tined re­la­tion­ship, and Yuanyuan Folk Park is home to the Tem­ple of the Match­mak­ing God, the main fea­ture of the park and one of Hangzhou’s lesser­known scenic spots rec­om­mended by Shang­hai Daily reader Lu Qi.

The tem­ple is ded­i­cated to Yue Lao, the an­cient match­mak­ing god, who was also in charge of mar­riages. Ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese myth, the de­ity ties an in­vis­i­ble red string around the an­kles of men and women who are des­tined to be soul mates and will one day marry each other.

The two peo­ple con­nected by the red thread are des­tined lovers, re­gard­less of time, place or cir­cum­stances. This mag­i­cal cord may stretch or tan­gle, but never break.

Although the tem­ple is quite small, it is said to be very ef­fec­tive and as a re­sult it lures many to pray for re­la­tion­ships and mar­riage.

In the cen­ter of the tem­ple stands a golden statue of the match­mak­ing god, who grins and holds a list of names of young sin­gle peo­ple. Un­der the statue there are sev­eral boxes con­tain­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of lots, for out­comes such as re­la­tion­ships, mar­riage, for­tune and off­spring.

From those boxes one can draw lots, which are re­spec­tively in­scribed with a num­ber. Ex­pla­na­tions to the mean­ing of each num­ber can be bought at a nearby counter.

On the tem­ple’s left side is a fresco de­pict­ing the love story of the fa­mous his­tor­i­cal per­son­age Tang Yin and his lover Qiu Xiang, while a fresco to the right il­lus­trates the love leg­end be­tween the Tang Dy­nasty (AD 618-907) of­fi­cial, gen­eral and diplo­mat Guo Yuanzhen (AD 656-713) and his wife.

The fame of the tem­ple in­spired the for­ma­tion of the “par­ents’ blind date party” held at the gate­way of Yuanyuan Folk Park on the last Satur­day morn­ing of each month. The ac­tiv­ity or­ga­nized by Hong­ni­ang.com, a blind- dat­ing web­site, has been go­ing for five years and has re­sulted in nu­mer­ous cou­ples com­ing to­gether.

The land­scape around the tem­ple is quite pleas­ant as it is sit­u­ated on Qixia Moun­tain. Red lanterns fea­tur­ing the yuan char­ac­ter are ev­ery­where, stand­ing out against the lush green moun­tain.

And visi­tors should not miss the park’s other at­trac­tions, such as Yel­low Dragon Cave, the Gar­den of Square Bam­boos and Huang Dax­ian (Ce­les­tial Be­ing of Tao­ism) Cave. Ad­mis­sion: 15 yuan Lot ex­pla­na­tion fee: 20 yuan Ad­dress: 69 Shuguang Rd Open­ing hours: 7:30am- 6pm

Red lanterns fea­tur­ing the Chi­nese char­ac­ter are seen ev­ery­where in

the Yuyuan Folk Park. — Wen Wen

Par­ents ex­change the in­for­ma­tion of their chil­dren in the Yuanyuan Folk Park, try­ing to

ar­range blind dates for them.

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