The Pear Orchard Temple in Shaxi pays homage to a range of dieties from China’s religious traditions. There is a shrine to the Taoist Jade Emperor, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin, the Sakyamuni Buddha in meditation and Cai Shen (财神), the folk god of wealth. These icons are represented in a mix of forms that reflects the Bai people of Shaxi’s historical origins, which include influences from Tibetan, Indian and Han Chinese religious pantheons.
I was in Shaxi these past few weeks working on initiatives for the Old Theatre Inn and leading a group from the Shanghai American School on a 4-day experiential learning program. So it was really fortuitous that on the day I brought the 18 students to the temple, there happened to be an annual festival taking place. This Shaxi temple festival is called Cai Shen Hui 财神会, the gathering for the god of wealth.