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Beidi Temple, Xixiang

This article was originally published on April 1, 2011, in the Shenzhen Daily.
The information was accurate at that time, and may be outdated now. Use with caution.

This hall is surrounded on three sides by an elementary school
There's a little-discussed area out in Bao'an, Xixiang by name. Modern buses and cars speed past it on the Guang-Shen Expressway from central Shenzhen to Guangzhou; but what a lot of history it holds!

History buffs will remember that at one time, Shenzhen was known as "Bao'an County." And the Xixiang area (with nearby Xin'an and Nantou) was the heart of that entity.

This hall faces a D-shaped ("moon") pond
On a recent wander through the back streets of Xixiang Zhen, I ran into one old family hall after another. One of these was surrounded by a modern elementary school; another was abandoned and full of foliage. Yet another was situated on a D-shaped pond, like many of the old Hakka villages of Longgang.

A peek between the doors shows this abandoned hall is filled with foliage
But the prize of that afternoon's ramble was the ancient temple to Bei Di, "Emperor of the North," located near the north end of the Xixiang Commercial Pedestrian Street.

[Note: A copy editor at the Shenzhen Daily decided to use the Cantonese form of the god's name, "Pak Tai," in re-writing this article. Rest assured, they are one and the same.]

Local people prepare for the yearly festival at Bei Di Temple, Xixiang
And as luck would have it (every wanderer's dream) the local people were out in numbers, getting ready for this weekend's celebrations. You see, not only is this Qing Ming, but it's the "Third of the Third Month" (三月三) Temple Fair in celebration of Bei Di's birthday, which was named part of China's Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.

Front courtyard of Bei Di Temple
Unfortunately, the Emperor himself was not in; he had been removed from his throne on the altar and placed in a remote location, to be ceremonially returned during the festival.

Meanwhile, out front, a stage was being prepared for a performance of local folk opera. Surely anyone who visits this weekend is in for a treat (as well as huge crowds!)

GPS Info:
  • 22.575719, 113.879610


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