Over the last 24 hours, I‚Äôve received numerous phone calls and SMSes requesting for information about which direction they can ‚Äúreceive‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúpray to‚ÄĚ the God of Wealth on Chinese New Year Eve.
Non-Chinese readers may not really know what this business of ‚Äúreceiving the God of Wealth during the Lunar Chinese New Year‚ÄĚ is all about ‚Äď the God of Wealth (or Choy Sun as it is known in Cantonese) is sort of I suppose, a Chinese Santa Clause of sorts. Except he doesn‚Äôt bring presents, he brings wealth and it doesn‚Äôt matter if you have been naughty or nice or written a letter.
Many Chinese, traditional or modern, religious or otherwise, place a great deal of faith in God of Wealth and it is seen as vital to an auspicious star to the year. For the older generation, receiving the God of Wealth is part of the prayer ritual and tradition that takes place on the eve of Chinese New Year. If you have an elderly family member, they usually will be familiar with not only the ritual, but also know how to consult the Tong Shu on the direction in which the God of Wealth resides, so that family members can go and ‚Äėreceive‚Äô the God of Wealth.
For those without the benefit of an elderly family member who knows how to find the information in the Tong Shu or read the Chinese publications, the God of Wealth is an eccentric fellow.
At least Santa sticks to a ritual ‚Äď he comes on the same day every year, roughly around the same time and wherever there is a chimney, he‚Äôs there.
The God of Wealth on the other hand switches positions each year, and there is always a different hour in which to ‚Äėreceive‚Äô the God of Wealth. To add to the confusion, there is also God of Death direction.
For many people, if they do not have guidance on the God of Wealth‚Äôs location, there is the fear of accidentally ‚Äėreceiving‚Äô the God of Death or praying to the God of Death instead.
So what really is the God of Wealth and does it have anything to do with Feng Shui?
A lot of the association between Feng Shui and religious practice or rituals arises from the fact that during the olden days, Feng Shui was practiced by intellectuals and the intelligentsia. When Feng Shui practices filtered down to peasants and rural folk, they associated the practice with a deity or god, rather than a body of prosperous Qi.
No doubt, it might also have been easier those days to simply tell the peasants and rural folks to pray in that direction, rather than try to confuse them about the technicalities. As the peasants and rural folk associated the whole affair with a religious ritual and a deity, thus was born the practice of praying to and receiving the God of Wealth.
It was also traditional in those days (and these days, although in Malaysia it is not legal to light firecrackers anymore) at the end of the prayer session, to let off firecrackers. It is the firecrackers, lit up at the right hour, that move and activate the Qi in the direction where the favourable Qi is located on that day, and not the prayers.
For those who are not religious, you don‚Äôt have to say a prayer or conduct prayers. Just celebrate, make some noise, engage in some movement or turn on the music at that direction within your home or the boundary of your home. By doing this, or just by simply being in the right location, you are already activating and receiving the Qi! The important thing is to understand that this is NOT a religious ritual or practice ‚Äď it is simply cloaked in religious overtones.
It is in fact really just about receiving the prosperous Qi of the day. For those who are interested in ‚Äėreceiving‚Äô the prosperous Qi (aka God of Wealth), on February 7th 2008 (midnight), the very start of the Lunar Chinese New Year, the Star of Wealth (aka God of Wealth) resides in the West.
However, it also resides in the same position of the Star of Death this year. Accordingly, it is not a good idea to receive the God of Wealth this year.
A better bet is the Star of Nobility which resides in the Northwest, or you can also try the Star of Happiness located in the South.
The best time to receive this Qi is as 12.30am, the Late Rat hour, and not the Early Rat Hour, which is 11pm-12am.From a Feng Shui standpoint, the effect of this ritual is not insignificant, but then you are tapping only into a daily auxilary star so the effects are not going to last the entire year. But it is nice to start the year on a positive note and this can have a very significant psychological boost effect for many people.
Finally, to all my Chinese readers, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year.