Not for­got­ten

> Re­tiree Wong Wing-pong, 85, has been look­ing af­ter thou­sands of un­wanted stat­ues of deities left on a coastal Hong Kong hill­side

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

and di­ety Guan Yu, in­spired by a Chi­nese gen­eral, which she left at Wah Fu five years ago.

“The place is very well kept. I am thank­ful to him,” said Wan, who re­moved the fig­ures from her home be­cause some of her rel­a­tives con­verted to Chris­tian­ity and did not want them on dis­play.

Another res­i­dent, 65-year-old re­tiree Tse Sum who swims off the shore near the site ev­ery day, also praised Wong for his ded­i­ca­tion.

“If they are dumped, they are trash,” said Tse of the un­wanted gods. “But if they are kept in or­der, they can be works of art.”

Re­li­gion and lo­cal cus­toms per­me­ate Hong Kong, where Bud­dhist and Taoist tem­ples are com­mon, and in­cense of­fer­ings are reg­u­larly burned out­side lo­cal busi­nesses.

Pri­vate homes often have a shrine to a lo­cal de­ity, with Chris­tian churches and mosques also in the mix.

But with space at a pre­mium in a city where rents are sky high, in­for­mal col­lec­tions of dis­carded gods often dec­o­rate road­sides and pub­lic spa­ces.

In a leafy park next to a po­lice sta­tion in the north­ern district of Fan­ling, around 30 stat­ues sit qui­etly un­der the branches of a banyan tree.

Un­like Wah Fu, this site is not cared for daily by a guardian, but still draws vis­i­tors.

Yoyo Ng, 54, has come to leave a Guan Yin statue, one she kept for more than 30 years, say­ing she had to re­move it from her home to make room for new ten­ants.

“I didn’t want it to go ... Hong Kong is just too small. I had no choice. I keep it in the shade so it’s not ex­posed to sun­shine,” says Ng, who works at a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre for the dis­abled.

To Ng, leav­ing the statue in the park means she can con­tinue to wor­ship it reg­u­larly there.

She said vol­un­teers from her neigh­bour­hood in Fan­ling come sev­eral times a month to clean the fig­ures.

Dis­carded deities have dis­ap­peared from some ar­eas over the years – res­i­dents say they are un­sure who was re­spon­si­ble or why they were re­moved.

The govern­ment says it has no spe­cific pol­icy of clear­ing them, although they may be taken away if they are block­ing the foot­path.

Wong says he has no in­ten­tion of aban­don­ing the fig­ures at Wah Fu. Look­ing af­ter the stat­ues has given him peace of mind.

“I feel I’m more healthy now. I have good sleep,” he says. “I will come here un­til I can’t walk ... I will look af­ter all of them.” – AFP

Left out in the cold … (left) the spot known lo­cally as ‘a sky full of gods and Bud­dhas’ at Wah Fu filled with un­wanted stat­ues of dieties. Wong (be­low left and bot­tom) of­fer­ing in­cense to the aban­doned gods un­der his care.

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