Friday 6 April 2007

Chinese Temple Customs - Sequence in Temple (廟中祭祀循序)

Dear All,

Here are a few simple steps for entering a temple and the sequences for paying respect to the Deities in a temple (according to their Ranking/Position).

In-order to allow you to have a clearer vision on the steps being listed here, I have come out with 2 simple illustrations on the Floor-plan of 2 types of temple layout (this will varies as different temples have different layout, but the sequences cannot be change).

Format One:


Format Two:

Step One:

Upon reaching a Temple, before you enter into the Temple, simply make a simple Bow to the temple (if there’s a Jade Emperor Urn outside, always Bow to the Heaven before entering).

This is to show your respect to the Deities of the temple and informing the Deities or the Spiritual Guardians that you are here to pay your respect to the Deities of this temple (quite similar to Hinduism, before there entered to the temple, some of them will ring the bells on the main door to inform the Deities that they are here, etc).

Step Two:

While you entering into a temple, always used the Right Door (so-called Dragon Gate).

Entering from Dragon Gate as to request the blessing from the Deities and also to so-called "cleanse" oneself physical body/mind/soul.

Usually you can see the Joss-paper Booth near to the Dragon Gate (a “sign” for you to remember which is Dragon Gate).

Step Three:

After purchasing of the Joss-set, always place the Bigger-size Joss-paper (Jade Emperor’s KIM - Gems) at the altar that dedicated to Jade Emperor and the other at the main-altar inside the temple.

Upon doing that, light your incenses and candles at the Jade Emperor’s Altar (if the temple set another area for lighting, that will be more perfect).

NOTE: never light your incenses or candles at the 7-Stars Lamp.

Step Four (See illustration – Point 1):

After placing the candles into the holders, start your paying respect with the incenses that you have lighted.

Always pay your respect to the Heaven (or Jade Emperor in Folks Temple) first before proceeding into the temple.

According to the "Standard Rules of the Sequences of Paying Respect (Wu Lun)" passed-down from the Ancient Time, Heaven/Earth comes before Emperors, Emperors come before Parents, Parents come before Teachers/Masters. And so the sequences cannot be mix-up or jumble-up

After paying your respect, always used your Left hand (Yang) to place the incenses into the Urn (Incense Holder).

And then proceed into the Temple, using the Dragon Gate.

Step Five (See illustration – Point 2):

Upon entering into the temple, pay your respect to the Main Deities of the Temple at the Main Altar dedicated to them.

Followed by the Right-Altar (Point 3).

Followed by the Left-Altar (Point 4).

If the temple got a Rear Hall, then proceed to the Rear Hall to pay your respect to the Deities inside there (see illustration Format One).

If the temple dedicated any Side-Altars to any of the Deities, then always proceed to the Right-Side-Altar first before proceeding to the next (see illustration Format Two).

Only after all the paying respect within the inner compound of the temple, then we proceed outside to pay respect to the Guardian Deities – Door Deities, Commander Deities, Tiger Deities, Earth Deities, etc (see point 8&9 in Format One or 7&8 in Format Two).

Step Six:

After all paying respect to all the Deities in the temple, proceed with the offering of the Joss-paper (Incense-paper) .

Before doing the offering, simply make a simple Bow, together with the Joss-paper, in-front of the Main Altar (no need to go round the whole temple), after that, proceed with the offering (burning).

Step Seven:

Before leaving the temple, if possible, try to do some donation to the temple, show your gratitude to the keepers that helped to maintain the temple and continuing the culture of our Chinese Deities (no need BIG amount, sincerity counts).

Step Eight:

Exit from the Left Door (Tiger Gate) of the temple.

After going out from here, all your so-called "Bad Luck" will be retained by the Deities and "Good Luck" will be blessed on you.

After going out from the temple, some people will practised not to look back or make any more respect to the Deities, this is up to individual.

But one thing in common, never SHOW your rear-side (buttock) directly in-front of the Deities (while you walking out), this considered as Dis-respect.


  1. ha can add one more point, enter dragon door with right leg and come out from tiger door with left leg.

  2. hahahaha.. hmmm... thanks :P

    Some ppl will have this practise:

    Male to enter with left leg and out with right leg.
    Female to enter with right leg and out with left leg.

    Quite complicated right? :P

  3. bro, wat about the or leng ki? Do we offer incense to the or leng ki first before jade emperor? Cos when start to trance, always see they offer the incense to the or leng ki then jade emperor. Same for lion/dragon troupes always bow to orh leng ki then proceed into the tua

  4. Hahahahaha, yup, this is individual Tua's practise, we cant comments much on that, but again, if we will to follow the "Wu Lun" rules, Tian and Di will always be the first piority.

    Have some short conversations with some of the mediums in the past, most of them said that this is what their elder pass-down to them and so they just follow without asking much. And this is why today, we can still see some mediums pay their respect to the Orh Leng Ki 1st instead of Jade Emperor. No right or wrong, just that the steps skip only :P

  5. so if we as devotees were to offer incense during darizi. Should we offer incense to the orh leng ki first or after we've offered to jade emperor?

  6. Bro, maybe u should also teach us how many joss stick for each urn.

  7. joss sticks for each urn depends on the temple tho...

    for devotees to offer 3 sticks per urn to do as wat jave wu given above...

    for urgent matters or trance matters, nine sticks to the jade emperor, leng ki, and the god to which help is needed.

    I am not sure on the practices in singpaore. In mal, we do give prayers to the door god before the entry to the temple.. which is the first offering to the jade emperor then to the door god before moving to the first alter.


  8. Recently, someone had approached me on how to pay respect to Deities in a Temple.

    In this Old Write-up, I have made some Simple Introduction on that Sequence, hope that this will help.

  9. hmm from here I can notice that one particular temple that I visited where the joss paper counter is located at the side of tiger entrance

  10. I always dedicate three joss sticks to Jade Emperor and main deity enshrined, whereas one joss stick for other deities. Is this correct?


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