Chinese people love money? What do they have to do with Cai Shen Ye – The God of Wealth?
As Chinese New Year approaches near the end of January, the Chinese community will be super busy with preparations for the month and most importantly, making sure that their prayers are heard. During Chinese New Year, one of the gods that would be prayed to very often is known as Cai Shen, or the Chinese god of wealth. The Chinese would hope that praying to the god of wealth would provide ample good fortune. Here’s what you need to know about the God of Wealth!
The name Cai Shen came along as it is a combination of two different characters which are Cái (財) which stands for money or wealth and also the word Shén (神) which stands for the word god or deity. Thus, put the two together and you get “Cai Shen” or the god of wealth. He has control over wealth and money and is particularly honored in Taoism and also Chinese folklore. In art, Cai Shen is usually accompanied with a wide array of attendants who will carry treasures that symbolize wealth such as gold ingots, fruits, etc. He is also very often depicted as having and riding a black tiger and would carry a tool that has the ability to turn ordinary stone and iron into gold.
Even though Cai Shen can be considered a god, in mythology, he was believed to have been incarnated into a few historical figures throughout the centuries. He was mostly seen taking the form of key political figures and also military figures, as with his extended knowledge and tremendous wealth, he was able to assist or provide advanced political moves. While there have been many figures that are believed to be in the incarnation of Cai Shen, some of the most popular figures are such as the stories of Bi Gan and Zhao Gong Ming.
In legends, Bi Gan was a wise sage who advised the king on governing a country. He was married and had a wife and son. He was, unfortunately, put to death by his own nephew, Di Xin, King Zhou Of Shang as he didn’t want to hear Bi Gan’s good advice. Bi Gan’s wife and son were able to escape and survived. However, it didn’t take long after Bi Gan’s death for the Shang dynasty to collapse.The Emperor of Heaven pitied Bi Gan for his loyalty, and he was named the “God Of Wealth '' because he was not selfish and unintentional. Bi Gan was also a civil servant, thus why he was also given the title of God Of Wealth.
The Fengshen Yanyi novel tells the legend of Zhao Gong Ming who used magic to support the failing Shang dynasty. A person named Jiang Ziya opposed this as he supported the opposing Zhou dynasty. He made a straw effigy of Zhao where he spent 20 days to tell incantations to it and shot an arrow through its heart. Zhao Gong Ming would later pass away. When Jiang visited the temple of Yuan Shi, he was scolded for the killing and was made to carry the corpse into the temple and apologize for his mistake. Zhao was later canonized as an incarnation of Cai Shen.
During Chinese New Year, a ritual is done as it is the most auspicious time to receive Cai Shen and invite the god of wealth into their home so as to bring in wealth and prosperity. There are numerous preparations that one must do to invite the god of prosperity into their home. Days before, the house must be cleaned, with windows and doors repaired and the main door should be well lit. One must also dress for the occasion and to prepare the ritual itself to invite the god of wealth in. Some people also prepare a feast to share with the god of wealth on New Year’s Eve. Cai Shen is also used in feng shui applications, as you can use an image of the god of wealth to attract money, good fortune and prosperity.
So, that’s a brief history and knowledge of what Cai Shen Ye, the god of wealth is to the Chinese. With Chinese New Year approaching around the corner, many followers would soon start making offerings to bring in more wealth and fortune 2023. Unsurprisingly, that may also include Hauntu, who are surely making sure that 2023 is a year of a better immersive interactive experience for all! We are open as usual on CNY, visit us to make us huat too!!