Nezha (哪吒) is a Taoist deity whose life story was recorded in the Ming dynasty work “Creations of the Gods” (封神榜) and "Journey to the West" (西游记). His is known as the Central Marshal (中坛元帅) in the Taoist pantheon and also Third Lotus Price by his devotees (莲花三太子).Nezha’s birthday is celebrated on 8th day of the Forth lunar month ( 四月初八日).
Birth of Nezha
Born in the Shang dynasty, his mother Lady Yin (殷氏) was pregnant with Nezha for three years before giving birth to a ball of flesh. His father, Li Jing (李靖) the Shang army commander at Cheng Tang slashed it apart to find a young child who was already about to walk and talk.
That dramatic first interaction between father and son seemed to have strained their relationship but luckily for Nezha, a celestial being (太乙真人) arrived and accepted his as a disciple.
Nezha was the youngest in the family having two elder brothers Jin Zha (金咤) and Muzha (木咤).
Battle with the Dragon Kings
When Nezha was a child he already processed incredible powers. Once when he bathed at sea, his movement generated strong currents greatly disturbing the East Ocean Dragon's palace.
The dragon king's third son was dispatched to check the source of turbulence but ended in a fight with Nezha who eventually killed him.
The grieving East Ocean Dragon King rallied the other Three Dragon Kings to seek Li Jing for revenge. Nezha not wanting to create more problems for his family committed suicide.
After his death, Nezha's mother built a temple in his memory and it became very popular with people. However when Li Jing discovered the temple, he destroyed it.
In his anger Nezha attacked his father and the two battled until two celestial beings intervened and helped the father and son reconcile.
Creation of God, Journey to the West
As the Shang rule became increasing corrupt, Nezha along with his father and brothers assisted King Wu to establish the Zhou dynasty. This adventure was recorded in the novel “Creation of the Gods” In “Journey to the West”, Nezha was sent by the jade emperor to subdue the Monkey God but failed to stop his terror in the Celestial Court.
Nezha in the Taoist patheon
Nezha is a well-known and popular Taoist deity with temples dedicated to him. He is more commonly present in temple celebrations as the Central Marshal of the celestial army. He is also very popular with devotees as Nezha, Third Lotus Prince.
His spirit medium can manifest in various forms and the temple will dress him in appropriate attire; childlike clothes, with lotus designs for the Third Lotus Price manifest and martial wear as the Central Marshal.
Nezha's story has inspired various cartoons and TV serials all with great success.