In the halls or temples of Taoism, people will often see the Taoists singing the ancient songs and dancing in the mandala, with colorful clothes and some kinds of religion service wares in hand, which is the Taoist service rite, Taoist Rite, or Attending the religion service to the letter of rules.
"Fast " refers to that the attendant should have a bath and change clothes, not eat meat or drink wine, not sleep with one's better half before the rite, to show one's piousness. Taoism absorbed this for the purpose of clearing the mind by eating vegetables and cleaning the body by having a bath, in other words, fasting. Doing good things to get rid of the evil thought, conforming to god to keep healthy, and then cultivating, are the three stages of
fasting. Taoism has paid more attention to fasting and set a series of rules to direct fasting process.
Jiao was sacrifice, an old rite. Taoism has absorbed and developed this meaning of sacrifice, by which to communicate with gods. Jiao also has many rules in the process and rite. Jiao has many other names, for people pray for what, there will be some relative kind Jiao, for example, a Jiao to pray for rain. At first, the rules of fasting were different from that of Jiao, but after several dynasties' combination, fasting and Jiao combined into one, the pronoun of Taoist rites. Fasting and Jiao rules refer to the rules and regulations that Taoist religion service should observe. The following are some services that the Taoists often attend:
(I), Morning and Evening Lesson in the Mandala, is a must for the Taoists living in the temple, whose purpose is to exercise body and cultivate mind, to pray for good fortune, to stabilize one's mind to be a Taoist, to release souls from purgatory, and to demonstrate the
management of the temples.
(II), Welcoming ceremony for the founder is to welcome Zhenwu ascend the mandala, to demonstrate his great power, to the effect of protecting scriptures, Taoism, and temples and halls, so as to keep the Taoist temples and halls quiet forever.
(III), Fete for the singles is a rite done in the evening lesson, to sacrifice the single ghosts and release souls from purgatory for them.
(IV), Birthday ceremony is the rite to celebrate the birthday of the founder of Taoism, Zhang-Sanfeng.
(V), Celebration ceremony is also the rite to celebrate the birthday of the founder of Taoism, Zhang-Sanfeng, which is done at day.
(VI), Meeting the emperor rite is used on the morning, the midnight point, on 25th of the twelfth month of the lunar calendar, to meet the Jade Emperor of Heaven, by which to ask the emperor to descend to the mortal world and bring good fortune to humans and keep them
healthy and longevous.
(VII), Big-turning rite is to demonstrate the power of Taoism, to get rid of all evils and release all creatures in the world, which is at the end of service.
(VIII), Sending letter (melting letter, or burning application) rite, is a very important rite in the fasting and Jiao, widely used in all kinds of big service, by which, Taoists send their application letters to Jade Emperor, to invite all gods descend to the mandala and bring fortune and preserve humans' life and release souls for the dead.
(IX), Water-and-fire tempering rite is a common rite to release souls for the dead.
(X), Lamp rite is also a commonly used rite done in the evening after the sun has set, with lamp as the religion service ware, by which to light the world and perish the darkness.
March 3 Temple Fair
March 3 of each year in the lunar calendar is the traditional Taoist festival. It is said that the God of Taoism, Emperor Zhenwu, was born on the day, so Taoism followers celebrate the day in a great style.
According to the history, Wudang Taoism has held religion services on the day every year from the Song Dynasty; folk believers also came to Wudang Mountain to worship Emperor Zhenwu. So the religion service has become the March 3 Temple Fair.
March 3 Temple Fair is a folk cultural activity with a strong participation, among which Taoist culture, Wudang Gongfu, folk customs are combining together. During the fair, Wudang Taoism holds many religious activities of Taoist characteristics, such as religion service of Fasting and Jiao, offering Dragonhead Perfume, baptizing keepsakes, hitting Fortune Clock and so on. There are also Wudang Gongfu performances, Wudang Tea performances, shadow plays, folk songs and other acrobatics and lamp fair, which fully show the folk customs of Wudang region.
All Taoists, Taoism followers, and traveling teams, including these from Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, and Singapore, come to Wudang Mountain to worship Emperor Zhenwu. On the day, there are full of visitors and happy tones in Wudang Mountain.
September 9 Prayer Service
September 9 of each year in the lunar calendar is the traditional Taoist festival. It is said that on the day Emperor Zhenwu succeeded in cultivation and became a god after forty-two years' cultivation, so Taoists and Taoism followers celebrate the day in a great style.
September 9 of each year, all the halls and temples in Wudang mountain are all decorated up and full of Taoist music, for Wudang Taoism are holding the September 9 Prayer Service. Taoism followers from the world come to Golden peak of Wudang Mountain to worship Emperor Zhenwu.
During the service, there are also many religious activities of Taoist characteristics, such as the performances of Wudang Gongfu, offering Dragonhead Perfume, baptizing keepsakes, hitting Fortune Clock, Praying for better fortune, and so on.