By TTNews Reporter Liao You-Sheng
Taitung County, Taiwan –
Taitung local gentry and Tianhou Temple in the early 1941 in order to oppose the policy of becoming the subjects of Japanese emperor and turning temple into shrine, local people initiated their very first holy procession right after the retrocession. Although there were not many people participated in this movement at the time, the procession was exquisitely well-planned.
At that time, the economy was not wealthy at all and all the temple palanquins were very simple, but the participants were so full of good faith. The palanquins were carried on the shoulders of the believers, stepping in a solemn manner.
In 1954, Taitung’s Lantern Festival activities took over by Haishan Temple. Ever since then, more and more local temples and folk troupes joined in this grand event of the year. The Lantern Festival in Taitung City has nearly 60 years of history. Everyone who is native-born in Taitung may have experienced the lively and joyful atmosphere of the Lantern Festival. Among that, the most popular local activity held in Taitung region during the Lantern Festival is the “Bombarding of Master Handan”.
It is said that Master Handan was originally a military officer in Shang Dynasty, named Chao Gong-Ming. Master Handan later became known as Martial God of Wealth due to his financial resources. In addition, another legend said that Master Handan was once a gangster. In order to show his repentance and wash away his sins, he was willing to receive people’s punishment by throwing firecrackers at him. It is also said that Master Handan was inborn to hate the cold, so people will throw firecrackers at him to warm him up wherever his palanquin goes. People also believe that the more firecrackers they throw the more financial resources Master Handan will bring to them in the new year.
Taitung’s annual Lantern Festival has been held for nearly 60 years in hopes of praying for steady weather, peaceful and tranquil year and abundant grain harvest as well as promoting traditional folk culture. The long-standing traditional procession has made a significant contribution to maintain the traditional folk arts and techniques. For the past decade, under the enthusiastic participation of temples and local people, the quality of the procession has shown a significant improvement. In the future, it is hoped that “Bombarding Handan Festival” will one day become an international well-known tourist event.
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English and Chinese
Lantern Festival: 元宵節
Bombarding Handan Festival: 炸寒單