Tudi gong(土地公), earth deity, is also called Fude zhengshen (福德正神). Fude zhengshen could be translated the Verbatim Orthodox Deity of Blessings and Virtue. Tudi gong is ranked low in the spectrum of popular deity in Taiwan although. He is the most common deity in Taiwan. The shrines dedicated to him are almost everywhere. In other words, Tudi gong is intimate to people.
The origin of Tudi gong is believed from ancient Sheshen(社神). Sheshen represents the earth. Up to an Emperor, down to the populace, everyone should worship to Sheshen. It is because people thought that the earth carrying, nourishing them. People cannot escape from the duty of respecting the earth. However, there are also many stories about Tudi gong today. The stories are often about that someone became Tudi gong after he was dead because his righteous or straight behavior when he was alive. The stories also provide the possibility why there are still so many Tudi gong today.
The duty of Tudi gong is variance, including tutelary deity of a village or a compound, a mountain, keeping a farm fertilize, watching over a graveyard etc. Some of them because of the shrine closed to a university, Tudi gong plays the role like Wenchang(文昌). Students pray to those Tudi gong by offering some deserts that they would pass a test or the entrance exam of a national university.
Tudi gong is also enshrined accompanied with other deities. They are Tudi poi(土地婆), his wife, and Huye(虎爺), his ride who is a tiger deity. In Taiwan, the images of Tudi poi are different from Mainland China. In early Taiwan, most of them are negative. People thought that Tudi poi is selfish and not kind. Sometimes she even dissuades Tudi gong from helping people. However, this negative image is changed because of women’s rights being high today. Tiger is the sedan of many deities. Tudi gong is one of them. Tiger is a symbol of mountain. Tudi gong rides a tiger meaning the control of mountain. It is also believed that Huye, the tiger could bring a fortune to people.
Though the shrines dedicated to Tudi gong are everywhere, there are still some famous Tudi gong ‘s temples gathering people around Taiwan. They are located separately in the north, middle, and south of Taiwan. The northern one is located at Chun-Ho area, New Taipei City(新北市中和區). The temple is named Hongludi(烘爐地). The temple at Middle Taiwan is Zinan temple(紫南宮). The souther one is Fuan temple (福安宮)in Pinton(屏東) county. The reason that they become famous is the same. They are believed to be a fortune god. Peoples thought that praying to those Tudi gong makes oneself be rich. At Zinan temple, people borrow some money from the Tudi gong. The loan is called Fa-Tsi Jing(發財金). People thought that they would earn some money and get luck by borrowing Fa-Tsi Jing. After one year, people return the Fa-Tsi Jing back and add a number as an offering to thank Tudi gong. Besides, there are also some festivals held by a village or group centered with Tudi gong. People would gather to take a meal getting a share of grace from Tudi gong.
Tudi gong, earth deity, gods of wealth, Earth God association