The Chinese God of the Local Land - Tu Di Gong
The Stories of God of the Local Land in Taoism
In Chou dynasty, a government offices Mr. Fu-Der Chang was in charge of income tax. He did many good will and won the reputation of merits and virtues. He died at age 102. The next turn government officer increased the income tax a lot and many people became poor. One poor built a stone house to worship Mr. Fu-Der Chang. Later this poor guy became rich. So many people collected money to build a temple for Mr. Chang and gave him as new name Fu-Der Rightness God . Mr. Chang was born 2nd day of 2nd lunar month in Chinese lunar calendar, which is one of birthdays of Land of God today.
The other story about the God of Land is around Chou dynasty. a servant named Mr. Ming-Der Chang. His master was away home for a while. The daughter of the master was missing her father very much. Mr. Chang escorted her to find her father during the cold winter time. The daughter was cold and very sick. Mr. Chang gave his clothes for her to save her life. But Mr. Chang died cold finally. After he died, the sky showed Fu-Der God Chinese characters. His master built a temple in the name of Mr. Chang to show his appreciation to save her daughter life. The emperor of Chou dynasty gave the temple name as Fu-Der Rightness God.
Another legend said God of Land taught people how to do farmer activity – specially in crop harvest. He was born on 15th day of 8th lunar month. So every year people will worship the God of Land on his birthday and pray for a a plentiful harvest. This is why you will find two different birthdays of the God of Land from the Chinese Farmer Calendar.
The book of Late Hang dynasty mentioned people called the God of Stove as the God of Land mistakenly. During the Sung dynasty, the image of God of Land was finally pictured as an old happy face, white-sliver gray bearded and hair man wearing in white with black hat. Today, we see more God of Land wearing golden hat and clothing. This is from people appreciate God of Land brought them luck and gave God of Land a golden outlook for return. (Note: Ancient China, only the emperor was allowed to wear golden and dragon clothing.)
The God of Land is in charge of the local land. He is treated as a lowest rank office in Taoism and very close to people. He is popular is because that many people also think he can bring people good and money luck. Every family Buddhist altar should have a red paper written Fu-Der Rightness God in Chinese. That means the family offers a place to the God of Land to stay. Every worship event for the God, the God of Land will be invited first as a guest and a guider during the ceremony.
There are many little roadside shines for the God of Land in the countryside, which are for poor people unable to afford a worship place at home. Those people can bring their offerings or sacrifices on every 2nd and 16th lunar days or on the birthdays of God of Land to pray for their luck. In the Chinese traditional graveyard, every tomb has a simple stone statue of God of Land on the side to protect the land and keep the evil spirit away from the tomb.