Ghost Festival, Taiwan

| June 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Paying Respect to the Dead in Ghost Festival, Taiwan

            Ghost Festival, Taiwan is a celebration for the ghosts and spirits. According to Taiwanese tradition, the seventh month of the lunar calendar is considered to be the Ghost month. Thus, a whole month is dedicated to the ghosts in Taiwan. It is believed that the gates of the underworld reopen to let the ghosts return to the world of the living.

Around the island, ritual dances, chanting of Taosit priests or Buddhist monks, burning of spirit paper money, and offering of drinks and food. These offering claimed to provide the ghosts earthly enjoyment. It is also believed that these offerings help them ascend to heaven. Rituals are said to please the dead and in return provide good fortune to the living. People avoid moving houses, travelling, swimming and getting married in order to avoid the negative influence of hostile ghosts.

One of the most spectacular festivals during the ghost month is the Keelung’s Ghost Festival, Taiwan. The festival is said to be dedicated to the vagabond and drifting spirits to help them ascend from oblivion to the heavens. On the first day, the shrine doors at Laodagong Temple are opened for the ghosts. For twelve days, incense and candles are continuously burnt. There are a lot of things you can enjoy during this festival. First is the ceremonial procession on the thirteenth day, then water lanterns the following day. The latter is the highlight of the festival.

You will be amazed by the beauty of lanterns of all shapes as they parade around the city in glittering floats. The lanterns serve as an offering an entry to the contest. The lanterns are released after the parade for they are believed to be guiding lights of the water ghosts. The dance of the Ghost god Jhongkuei at the service is also a must see, the festival ends with the closing of the shrine doors symbolizing the return of the ghosts to the underworld.

Another must-see Ghost Festival, Taiwan is the Grappling with the Ghosts in Toucheng. This festival does not only give you the chance to offer to the dead, but also allow you to give alms to the poor. You can also enjoy the Gupeng which are built for the festival. The Gupeng is a structure consists of twelve wooden pillars where pastries are hung. The ceremony of the festival often starts at midnight. You will see groups of men competing to climb the steep Gupeng. To make the competition more fun, you can catch the fallen pastries for good luck.

Taiwan is one of the most beautiful places to visit in terms of religious celebrations. The Taiwanese are very tolerant of other religions. No matter what religious order you belong to, you can co-exist peacefully in Taiwan. Aside from the Ghost Festival, Taiwan, there are many other interesting religious festivals. Each of them has fascinating tales that you can add to your travel stories. Make Taiwan you next travel destination.

 

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Category: Calendar, Holidays 2012, Holidays 2013, Taiwan holidays

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