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Festivals & Ceremonies

Creativity appears in ceremonies

Texture

Pingtung County is a multicultural terrain. Different ethnic groups celebrate different festivals and ceremonies at different times, displaying the implications of their ethnic cultures. When a ritual or ceremony continues from this generation to the next generation, it becomes a new tradition. Simply put, traditional is a future tense—signifying something happening into the future.

Located at the rim of history, Taiwan had been colonized by different powers, from the Netherlands (which mainly colonized southern Taiwan—Tainan areas now. Meanwhile, Spain also colonized northern Taiwan), Cheng Chenggong, Japan, to the Nationalist Government. The religious beliefs of different colonizers still affect the religions of Taiwanese now. However, for the common people, folk beliefs are the essential part of their everyday lives.

When spring comes, its smell is released from the earth. When Spring Equinox comes, farmers sow seeds in the fields. In the 1st lunar month, some Hakka people celebrate the tradition of praying for the new babies, blessing, cannon siege, and more. As to Minnan people, they have the rituals of goddesses' homecoming. For young people, they celebrate with Spring Scream—concerts and beach activities in Hengchun Peninsular by the sea under the sun.

Bidding the Spring Scream farewell, summer cicada sing in woods. Under the starlit sky, the Bluefin Tuna Cultural Season begins in Pingtung. At the same time, the scream in the sky – Southern Cross starts in Henghcun peninsular.

Sowing seeds in spring and plowing during the summer, people harvest in autumn. In Pingtung, the most important traditional ritual is the Welcoming the Kings Ritual held every 3 years in Donggang. In the county, the similar ritual is held in 21 different places, with different scales and at different times (Note 1). Now, the rituals held in Donggang, Nanjhou, and Siaoliuciou are the grandest ones. The latter two are branched out from the one in Donggang.

The largest traditional ritual for the indigenous people in Pingtung County is probably the 5-year ritual of Paiwan tribe. It is held during autumn to celebrate a good harvest. At the same time, they pray to ancestral spirits to bless for a better harvest in the coming year by offering the produce they reaped. It starts at Paumaumaq at the northernmost of Dawu Mountain, and it proceeds to the south. The whole ritual lasts for 6 months.

As to the proceedings of the 5-year ritual, Paiwan tribe has no particular guide. They just hold it in accordance with the oral tradition delivered by the Chief Gulou family at Laiyi Township. The whole ritual contains 12 stages, from the kicun in the beginning, it comes to the procedures of welcoming the spirits, bidding the spirits farewell, to lifting the taboos at the end (Note 2).

In autumn, the Checheng Township Hot Spring Spa Cultural Season held in one of the 4 best hot springs in Taiwan is a highly recommended event. When the maple leaves dye the mountains red, Hengchun International Folk Song Festival is held. Hosted by Chen Da, an amateur folk song singer, it aims to present the unique local folk songs to international visitors.

In winter, everything comes to a rest. Entering the first Catholic Church in Wanluan Township, it is nice to feel the holiness and tranquility there. The night rite held by the Pingpu tribe in Jiarueipu, announces the deities' blessing for the next year in the tempo of adagio.

In each season, there are exciting moments, celebrated with different rites and festivals. People continue to inject new cultural elements into Pingtung County displaying the exciting moments of its multiculturalism.
 

Note 1: Please consult Annals of Pingtung 2014

Note 2: Please consult Annals of Pingtung 2014