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Taoists Celebrate 900th Anniversary of Shrine

More than 1,000 Taoists from around the world assembled at Mount Longhu in east China's Jiangxi Province on Sunday to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the founding of Sihan Heavenly Master Temple, the shrine of the oldest Taoist sect.

Taoists from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, the US, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea attended the three-day China Taoist Culture Festival, which opened Saturday, local sources said.

Other activities included culture forums, a relics exhibition, a tourism festival and an international contest on poetry and couplets, all sponsored by the China Taoist Association and provincial and municipal religious departments.

The first Cross-Straits Taoist Culture Forum was held between October 22 and 24, attracting more than 200 attendees including Abbot Ren Farong, head of the China National Taoists Association, and officials from Taoist associations in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, as well as researchers from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

With a history of more than 1,800 years, Taoism is the only native religion of the five major religions recognized by the government.

Mount Longhu, about 20 kilometers south of Yingtan City, was where Heavenly Master Zhang Daoling is credited with transforming the thinking of Laozi into a popular religion by founding the Zhengyi Tianshi Dao or Tianshi Dao sect during the reign of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220).

The 2005 China Yingtan Taoist Culture Festival & the 9th Longhu Mountain Taoist Culture and Tourist Festival were jointly organized by Yingtan Municipal People's Government, the Chinese Taoist Association and Jiangxi Taoist Association.

(Xinhua News Agency October 24, 2005)

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