Chung Yuan Festival

According to Taoist beliefs, Chung Yuan Pudu originated on the birthday of the Chinese Guardian of Hell, the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, who governs all matters in the underworld and decreed an amnesty out of mercy so all the wandering ghostd could be released back to the mortal world from hell on the 1st of the seventh lunar month to enjoy the offerings prepared by the living for one month so they might be rescued and converted to "The Way".

Another origination is from Buddhist beliefs, "Ullambana". It is said that a disciple of Buddha, Moginlin, entered hell with basins full of "hundreds of flavors and the five fruits," and offered them in ten directions to rescue his own mother from the way of hungry ghosts on the 15th day of the seventh month.

The Chung Yuan ghosts festival in Keelung can be traced back to the 1st year of Emperor Hsienfeng, Ching Dynasty (1851), when armed strife between settlers from Changchou and those from Chuanchou in mainland China became so fierce that many died in result. Local intellectuals came forth to mediate a ceasefire and then to hold salvation ceremonies for the souls of the dead in rotation, taking those of one surname at a time. The salvation ceremonies soon took the place of armed conflict, and self-defense team demonstrations replaced actual combat.

The Chung Yuan ceremony held in Keelung is one of the most spectacular Chung Yuan festivals in Taiwan. The festival begins with the opening of the gates of Hades at Laotakung Temple on the 1st day of the seventh lunar month, and in this evening, every family in Keelung lights a lamp in front of the door in order to light the way for ghosts at night. On the 12th day, lamps at Chuputan Temple are lighted. On the 13th day, a parade of bucket lamps through the streets is held and greeted by attendants.
On the evening of the 14th day, a parade is held for releasing the water lanterns which are contributed by each clan, and there are also richly decorated yiko floats, martial-arts, and folk performances. This is the peak of activity for the entire month. At 23:00 in the night, the launching of water lanterns is held at the seashore of Wanghai Lane in Patoutzu harbor. At the beginning of the activity the water lanterns of the various clans are gathered. After incense is burned and the gods worshipped, the paper lanterns are floated on the water, set alight, and pushed toward the open sea. The clans whose lanterns float the fastest are believed to be those that will prosper most in the year to come. The burning lanterns light up the harbor brightly, providing an enchanting spectacle for the onlookers. On the 15th day, the centerpiece of the entire month-long festival, sacrificial rites for delivering the ghosts are performed both in public and private. At the end of the rites, ceremonial dances are also performed to welcome deity Chung Kuei to awe the ghosts and keep them in order. When the seventh lunar month comes to an end, the gates of Hades are closed at Laotakung Temple, and it indicates the end of the one month-long activity.

source : http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/local/web/Eng/about.htm


At 1/03/2006 12:38 AM, Anonymous Pei said...

Chung Yuan Festival is a big celebration lasting for about one month. During the time,there are many special and unique activities holding by temples.And also there are several scary taboos that makes the festival a little horrible to me.

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