The Kitchen God & His Wife
Continuing my series on obscure deities at temples, I'd like to discuss the Kitchen God and his Wife. Aside from being the title of a twee novel by Amy Tan (I have problems with Amy Tan - she can be so good, and she can be so very, very bad), the Kitchen God and his Wife are important deities in the Chinese religious pantheon.
The Kitchen God is the protector of place, and at the end of the lunar year he travels to see the king of Heaven and report on all the things that have happened in his particular household. Most Chinese temples have a shrine to him hidden somewhere in the temple precinct, normally accompanied by his homely wife. One should always make an offering to him and ask him to continue to care for the temple and, if possible, to extend his protection to your own household.
I am lucky because in two directions I have temples with shrines to the God, so I figure that between the two of them I have things well and truly covered.
As it's the last day of the Western year I think I'll offer up a prayer to this comforting duo and ask them to only report on the good things I have said and done in the past year. Perhaps they'll choose to turn a blind eye to my less saintly moments - they look like a nice couple, after all...