By TTNews Reporter Tsu Chan-Chang
Yilan County, Taiwan –
One of the annual traditional religious festivals in Taiwan held on the last day of the Ghost Month fell on September 18, 2009. Chiang Ku Festival was also known as Taiwan’s Halloween. On this day, the venue of Toucehng Chiang Ku Festival was crowded with a considerable number of locals and tourists from all over the places to witness this sacred and grand event of the year.
The most eye-catching part of this event is two giant and tall bamboo towers standing in the middle of the venue. These two tall bamboo towers were built to placate the wandering souls and pay reverence to them. One bamboo tower is called “Fan Peng” (the platform offering rice) with a large basket of rice placed on the top of the platform. It is believed that once the wandering ghosts have been fed well, they will not harm the living people. Another bamboo tower is called “Ku Peng” (the platform for the contest), which is also the spotlight of the event.
“Ku Peng” is much taller than “Fan Peng” with the height around 43 meters above the ground, equivalent to a 15-story building. When people looked at it from the ground, the bamboo tower was freaking magnificent. In order to make the entire contest more challenge, the poles were smeared with over 200 gallons of beef tallow to make it difficult to climb. Each team member must completely follow the traditional customs by wearing straw sandals and bag shirts. With the help of ropes, it will be easier for the participants to climb the greasy poles.
Ku Peng is entirely built with bamboos and the flags and gold medals are tied on the top of poles. When the climbers reached the bottom of the platform, they have to pull themselves over the lip of the platform and then continue to move up to catch the flags on the top of poles. Once they obtain the flags and gold medals, that means the end of the competition and they will win the applause and cheers from the crowd below.
The entire competition of grabbing Ku Peng not only requires an excellent tea work, but the participants also must have excellent physical strength, extraordinary courage and resourceful intelligence. Toucheng Chiang Ku Festival can be described as the most magnificent and essential activity in the Ghost month.
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English and Chinese
Toucehng Chiang Ku Festival: 頭城搶孤
Fan Peng: 飯棚
Ku Peng: 孤棚