Longshan Temple has been destroyed many times – by earthquakes, typhoons, fires, and American WW2 bombers – but has been rebuilt each time, and is still a popular place for Buddhist/Taoist worship. (It is also popular with tourists.)
I visited the temple with two enthusiastic guides in their early twenties from TourMeAway (great and free!) They walked the group through the rituals of the temple, from incense to fortunes.
As an example:
Think about a question that you want to answer.
Throw the crescent shaped blocks (shown below.) If one lands up and the other down, then you have permission to move forward. If not, you try again, for a maximum of three throws.
If you have been give permission to move forward, you draw a stick. At the bottom of the stick, there is a number that corresponds to a drawer.
From that drawer, you take a slip of paper with your fortune.
There were lots of different deities in the back of the temple – in part because whenever city planners would remove a temple in another part of the city, they’d need to find a new home for its deities. Often, they’d end up here.
The guides introduced us to one deity that they would visit as students to pray for good test scores. Another deity helped with love and matchmaking.
In addition to lots of deities, there were also lots of lanterns. I’m not sure if it’s because of Chinese New Year and the lantern festival, or if this is a standard number of lanterns, but they were lovely and atmospheric.