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.