TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei's popular religious landmark Longshan Temple announced Friday (Feb. 27) that the use of incense will no longer be permitted at the site starting March 13.
In an official statement, Longshan Temple said it will stop providing incense sticks to worshippers due to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and out of consideration for the environment. The temple pointed out that visitors will not be allowed to bring their own incense either since burning it adversely affects Taiwan's air quality and the health of nearby residents.
In May of last year, the religious site banned the use of candles in an effort to prevent air pollution. Fan Tien-cheng (范添成), a community chief in Wanhua District, encouraged the visitors to worship with their hands and said that the effectiveness of their prayers is determined by their faith, not by the form in which the prayers are offered.
Titan Wu (吳孟寰), spokesperson for the Xiahai City God Temple, said that the temple will continue the traditional use of incense but that each worshipper is limited to one stick instead of three. He believes that incense and candles should continue being used since they are indispensable elements in rituals, reported CNA.
According to New Talk, Longshan Temple was not the first religious gathering place in Taiwan to ban the use of incense. In 2014, the Xingtian Temple of Taipei announced a ban on incense burning and removed all the incense burners on the site.