Discover the enchanting world of Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees, a cherished shrine near the Tin Hau Temple in Fong Ma Po Village, Lam Tsuen, Hong Kong. Steeped in history dating back to the Qing dynasty, these iconic banyan trees have become a focal point for locals and tourists, especially during the festive Lunar New Year. Let’s delve into the legends, traditions, and the evolution of this mystical site.
History and Legends
Lam Tsuen, a residential area since the Song dynasty, boasts a history of over 700 years. The Tin Hau Temple, built during the Qing dynasty, served as the administrative hub for Lam Tsuen. The legend of the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree began with a hollow camphor tree, believed to possess magical powers after a man’s wish for his son’s academic success seemingly came true. As the story spread, an influx of people flocked to make their wishes at the renowned hollow tree.
Ways of Throwing Wishes
The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees consist of four trees, each symbolizing different wishes. Wishes for career, academics, and wealth are directed at the first tree. While the second is reserved for marriage and pregnancy. The third tree welcomes all wishes, and the fourth, a unique plastic tree, allows worshippers to throw “Bao Die,” an orange tied to a red paper, containing their wishes. Success is believed to hinge on the paper successfully hanging on the tree’s branches.
Lam Tsuen hosts the Hong Kong Well-Wishing Festival during the Chinese New Year, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. The festival features various activities, including throwing wishing placards, setting wishing lanterns afloat, an international float exhibition, a food carnival, and lantern light celebrations for newborns.
Accident and Evolution
In 2005, a branch collapse led to injuries, prompting authorities to prohibit the throwing of wishes directly onto the trees. Wooden racks were introduced for hanging wishes while a plastic artificial tree was added in 2009. This plastic tree, called “Bao Die,” ensures the tradition continues safely. Over the years, the festival has evolved with new additions like a Wishing Well and a transformed Lam Tsuen School into a Wishing Square.
Protection and Recent History
To safeguard the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree, measures include pruning damaged branches and introducing a new Chinese banyan tree in 2008. A 15-foot plastic Wishing Tree was added in 2009, allowing visitors to continue making wishes. The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees have remained a charming and well-preserved tradition, with millions invested in visitor facilities by the Tai Po Council District.
How to Make a Wish
Visitors can partake in this magical tradition by writing wishes on multicolored joss paper called “po dip.” Rolled and tied with an orange, the wishes are thrown high into the trees. The higher it lands, the more likely the wish is to come true. While a falling orange indicates a wish deemed too greedy.
Easily accessible, visitors can take public transportation from Tai Po Market or Tai Wo MTR stations. A special bus during the first four days of the Lunar New Year provides direct access to Lam Tsuen.