Taiwanese pray for marriage
Taiwanese men and women held incense sticks and murmured prayers to the god of matchmaking and marriage on Valentine's Day, anxious to find a partner as government data showed a sharp drop in matrimony on the island.
Following decades of economic growth, more Taiwanese appear to be shunning or putting off marriage, with many preferring to pursue freewheeling lifestyles over family duties - in stark contrast to the Chinese tradition of marrying young.
According to government figures, only 14.4% of Taiwanese between the ages of 20-29 were married in 2008, down from 23% in 2000.
Yet there are still those who yearn for wedlock while finding it hard to meet the right person.
The Xia Hai Temple in Taipei attracted an unusually large crowd on Sunday - Valentine's Day, which coincided with the Lunar Chinese New Year, a time Taiwanese rush to temples to pray for peace and prosperity.
Amid the festive mood, many in the crowd at the temple - one of dozens in Taiwan that worship the legendary matchmaker known as the "Old Man Under the Moon" - had just one thing on their minds: Marriage.
After saying his prayers, Kent Chen said he has been too busy with work to learn the art of courtship.
"I have remained single for too long so I came to beg for a good woman and good marriage," said the 32-year-old businessman.
Many women were accompanied by their anxious-looking mothers. They knelt down before the statue of the deity and listened attentively as a temple worker taught them how to say their prayers.
"Tell him the specific type of man you would want to meet and your conditions for your fiance," the worker said. "Bring cookies to thank him if your wish is granted."