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Taiwan’s Temple Parades

Taiwan’s Temple Parades

It was the early afternoon on a bright sunny day. It must have been on the 21st of May 2016, it was a Sunday.  Taiwan celebrates this as a National Holiday, called ‘Labour Day’. It is associated the start of spring as well as the celebration of workers.

A few friends and I were shopping around as we made our way out of a shopping mall in Taipei to get drinks from the bubble tea shop next door. As we were all waiting for our order, the sound gongs, pipes and the beating of huge drums, the parade music got ever louder as everyone around us overcome by the commotion.

With what then become loud detonations of fire crackers which left huge burnt black marks on the road, was very quickly covering everything in deep grey smoke. Our bubble teas were ready, so we collected them and went off to join the spectating crowds to see what was stopping all the traffic to a complete halt.

The parade, now appearing from out of the smoke, were men and women carrying banners, musicians and performers, all in cultural attire marched in formations while some carried an effigy in a palanquin, it was a photographer’s dream. We witnessed several ornate wheeled buggies and wooden sedan chairs pass by, all equipped with flashing LEDs and loudspeakers.

They made frequent stops to give godly blessings to individual businesses and households. At each halt, strings of firecrackers are donated, joss paper is burned and fireworks are launched into the sky, even though the beauty of the pyrotechnics is lost because of the bright daylight sunshine. After the rites have been concluded, the parade moves on, and so did we.

Taiwanese temple parades in Taipei


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When can I expect another Temple Parade?

These religious practices are a common occurrence all over Taiwan, they typically take place at any time (day or night) on weekends but more so on national holidays and events. You can find all of Taiwan’s national holiday 2016 dates by clicking here.

It’s one of the many beautiful cultural perks of living in Taiwan, as even if you’ve never set foot in a Taiwanese temple, you’re bound to come across folk-religion parades. These traffic stopping events are a product of modern Taiwanese culture which blends Chinese, Austronesian, Japanese and western influences, upon which a typical temple parade begins and ends at a temple.

As Taiwan never experienced Communist oppression, visitors have the opportunity to witness their traditional religious practices and ancient customs that have disappeared from the Chinese mainland. As a result, Taiwan can be said to be ‘more traditionally Chinese than China’, but at the same time, being ‘much more than Chinese’. They still hold the strong ancient belief that the explosive sound of the firecracker can scare away evil spirits and demons, who might otherwise bring bad luck.

Offerings are seen outside many shops & businesses

Temple offerings to the parade

Temple offerings to the parades

Symbolicofferings are made to the Triple Gem, giving rise to contemplative gratitude and inspiration.

Typical material offerings involve simple objects such as a lit candle or oil lamp, burning incense, flowers, food, fruit, water or drinks.

The passing performers and assisting parade members would commonly stop at each main traffic light. These are good opportunities for the parade members to let off their firecrackers to ward off the evil spirits and to be gratefully offered drinks from those making the said symbolic offerings.


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The eight members (almost always men), represent four ‘infernal’ generals plus four seasonal gods (of spring, summer, fall and winter). They’re known to have a vaguely menacing attitude as they swagger along the street whilst carrying their ritual weapons.

The most important thing is to keep a respectful distance from them and don’t cross their protective line.

(First image) The Bajiajaing and (last image) The Zhentous.

The Bajiajaing, Temple ParadesThe Zhentou, Temple Parades.The Bajiajaing   

If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might witness the ‘Bajiajaing’, roughly translated as the ‘Eight Generals performance parade’.

The Eight Generals are known to be the spiritual guardians that ward off, nab and punish evil spirits.

They are portrayed by troupes of young people with colourful costumes and makeup to depict specific generals.

The Zhentou

One of the most eye-catching participants are known as ‘zhentou’. These performance troupes (some professional, many amateur) wear fabulous attire, walk on stilts and perform acrobatics.

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Written by kristian Yngve

Hi, my name is Kristian. I came to Taiwan back in 2012 with a few business partners from Sweden to setup and run an online business in digital marketing. They have since left this country, as I stayed in beautiful Formosa to manage and grow the company.

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Taipei’s Dragon Boat Festival, The Boat Races of 2016

Taipei’s Dragon Boat Festival, The Boat Races of 2016

Taipei’s Dragon Boat festival attracts people from all over Asia to observe this annual celebration. During the festival, one can find themselves surrounded by various foods, activities, games, and, of course, the spectacle of over 212 dragon boats, all with various colors and designs, competing to see who’s this year’s fastest boat!

This year’s Dragon Boat Festival took place at 4 PM on June 9. The fair itself lasted through to Saturday, June 11th at the Dazhi Riverside Park. The event had catered for the entire family as, once again, the park had transformed into a smorgasbord of stalls that had provided arts and crafts for children and adults alike.

The History of Dragon Boat

Qu_Yuan

Qu Yuan

The Dragon Boat Festival history began over 2,100 years ago in China. The story begins with a poet named Qu Yuan who lived during the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty in China that lasted from 475 BC to 221 BC. He was a high-ranking official in the Chu royal house who disagreed with the king’s allegiance to another dynasty, the Qin. This led to his eventual exile from his beloved home and state.

More than twenty years later Qu Yuan discovered the Qin had conquered the capital of Chu, his hometown. In despair for the love of his birthplace and disdain for the corruption of the Qin, he drowned himself in the Miluo River as a ritual protest. The villagers raced out in boats to try and save Qu Yuan, but it was too late. They quickly threw balls of sticky rice into the river for the fish to eat instead of Qu Yuan’s body.

There are many different variations of this story, but they all relate to Qu Yuan sacrificing himself to protest the corruption of a country that led to the destruction of his hometown. His sacrifice then led to the yearly tradition of throwing food, mainly Zongzi, into the river to symbolize the people’s’ respect for Qu Yuan.


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Zongzi, The Food of the Dragon Boat Festival

ZongziThe most traditional and popular food for the festival are Zongzi, or simply zong, which is made specifically for the event. It is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo, reed, or other large flat leaves.

They are cooked by steaming or boiling. The rice dish includes a few different fillings, such as mung beans, red bean paste, Chinese BBQ pork, Chinese sausage, pork fat, mushrooms, peanuts, chicken.

The Festivities of Dragon Boat

The most common practice shared all around Asia during the Dragon Boat Festival is, of course, racing dragon boats! Deriving from the history of racing to try and save Qu Yuan from drowning, has evolved into a state to state sporting competition.

Dragon Boat Flag

Taipei hosted this large racing competition of 2016 at the Dazhi Riverside Park, for countries from all over Asia that will span over three days. More than 200 teams from Taiwan and beyond will compete in the Taipei International Dragon Boat Championship, which has a prize of NT$1 million, (approximately $31,057.83 at the time).


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Dragon Boat Mid-Race

Dragon Boat Race

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Written by Sarah Bell

I came to Taiwan two years ago to teach English in Taipei. Loving my Taiwanese life right now with no future plans for anything else as of yet. I want to meet new people from all over the world, so please feel welcome to add me as your expat buddy!

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