Temple Festival(I)- Introduction

2013年8月21日 星期三

Mazu Pilgrim, Taichung
      Temple festival is an unique and common culture in Taiwan. Thousands of temple festivals held in Taiwan, from north to south and from Taiwan to remote islands. The rituals of temple festivals differ events from events. You should choose one to join if you have an opportunity to have a trip in Taiwan.

Historical Background
Cleaning Port, Yeliu
       Temple culture is an unique culture in Taiwan. There are over 5,000 temples, Basically, temples can be  classified into 3 categories: Taoist Temples,Buddhist Temples and Confucius Temples. And The most prosperous and attractive temple festival is that of Taoist Temples. Taoism believes that if someone contributes a lot to the society or nation with brave behaviors or morality, he/her will become a deity and keep the merit he/she makes going
       People build temples for the deities in order to glorify the merits they made. For example, Mazu was born in about 960 A.D. Her father and brother were fishermen and died from storm when fishing. She carried a lantern, according to an old tale, in the dark night at a cape to guide the fishing vessels after their death. At the beginning, fishermen and sailors built temples for her in order to keep safety when sailing. Nowadays, Mazu has became the most popular deity in the Chinese society of Southeast Asia.

Temple Parade(陣頭Zen Tou)
      Temple Festival is a kind of ritual to express respect to the deity. The purposes and forms of festivals are various. However, there are somethings in common, especial the Taoism Festivals. There are always parades in the Temple Festivals, and there are some basic elements in the parades:

Holy Generals, Danshui

  • Holy Generals(神將Sheng Jian)

        Holy Generals are the directors of divine army and they were famous generals when they were human. They are as tall as about 3 m and are made of bamboo so that people can carry the big bodies inside with their shoulders.

  • Polices of under world (官將首Guan Jian Shou/八家將 Ba Jia Jian)
        Holy Generals represent the order of heaven. Guan Jian Shou and Ba Jia Jian present the law of the under world. Guan Jian Shou and Ba Jia Jianboth are the polices of under world but originates from different temple systems.The faces of players of Guan Jian Shou and Ba Jia Jian are decorated with terrible paints. Like polices in the ancient time, some hold weapons and some hold cuffs. Their paints, dressings and tools in hands make their image of under world police vivid in order to scare away ghosts that disturb the world. Some local stores will also invite Guan Jian Shou/Ba Jia Jian to go around their stores during the parade.
Face Paints of Guan Jian Shou, Danshui
Guan Jian Shou, Danshui

  • Holy Child(三太子 San Tai Zi)

San Tai Zi, Danshui

        San Tai Zi was appointed by the heaven government and was born to help to overcome the Shang Dynasty, an ancient dynasty about 1,600 BC to 1,000 BC. His image is a child and likes playing. Therefore. the performance of San Tai Zi always keeps pace with the pop culture within teenagers. It is easy to find San Tai Zi during the all of the temple parade and he is the only deity that people can touch and play with.

  • Dragon Dance and Lion Dance
        For sure, dragon dance and lion dance are also necessary in the temple parade. The success of performance depends on the teamwork. Be careful, dragon dance and lion dance will be accompanied with fireworks. 

        If you have a opportunity to join a Temple Festival, here are some tips for you
  • Most religion materials are not allowed to touch. Ask if you are not sure.
  • There is no taboo for taking pictures. However, don't stand in the moving line of the parade.
  • Fireworks are loud. Bring a pair earplug with you or you can buy in convenient stores. You can also wear gloves if you want to take picture in the front of fireworks (most performance will be accompanied with fierce fireworks)

Temple Culture
        Nowadays, temple parades have become an unique culture and art in Taiwan. In the opening performance of World Game 2009, which was held by the Kaoshiung City, temple parade became the major theme. 

To Be Continued
        Each year, there are over thousands Temple Festivals in Taiwan. Some Temple Festivals can last for over one weeks, but may last for only a few hours. You don't need to put the Temple Festival particularly in your itinerary.You can organized your itinerary first and choose a Temple Festival that is convenient to you if any.  In the next blog Temple Festival  (II), let's try to choose a for your itinerary. 



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