Thick incense smoke filled the gilded, elaborately carved temple. The 50-year-old woman knelt down and bowed before a table piled with plastic toys and baby bottles.
Clasping her hands in supplication, Lin Shu-wen uttered a short prayer for the two abortions she had more than 20 years ago. For, as it reads in Chinese on a small altar nearby, "the babies prevented by fate from ever being tied to their parents."
The retired history teacher is one of scores of women who came to Ching Shui Temple in Taipei over the last month to make similar prayers. With abortion becoming less taboo in Taiwan, several dozen Buddhist and Taoist temples offered a "baby souls mourning" service during ghost month, a time when Taiwanese honor wandering ghosts in the hope they will be placated and cease to haunt the living.