Harvest festival

The Pazeh, one of the lowland Pingpu people, will hold a feast tomorrow to celebrate their cultural identity and a bountiful year

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Nov 09, 2012 - Page 12

The Pazeh people of Liyutan Village (鯉魚潭村), located in the hills of Sanyi Township (三義鄉), Miaoli County, and one of the last vigorous strongholds of Taiwan’s neglected plains Aboriginal groups, also known as the lowland Pingpu people, will hold a traditional harvest festival tomorrow.

“The harvest festival is for family members to return home and celebrate our Pazeh traditions after the autumn harvest each year, so that we will not forget the old culture passed down from our ancestors,” said Kuo Pei-shuan (郭珮軒), a Pazeh clan member from the village. She added, “It is becoming more difficult because we face much pressure from society to assimilate,” she said.

Kuo said that although it is a Pazeh ritual, all visitors wanting to celebrate the harvest festival are welcomed guests.

The event begins at 9:30am with cultural events taking place throughout the morning, and include dance and music by Miaoli County’s Taokas Aboriginal community, and the Saisiyat and Atayal indigenous groups. The Pazeh feast begins at 1:30 pm.

Besides taking in dance and music performances by the Pazeh and other Aboriginal groups, all guests are invited to join the kantian (牽田) ritual, where villagers join hands and give thanks for a bountiful harvest this year, and to wish for a good yield next year.

Following the dance, guests are invited to gather with the villagers for an open-air Pazeh feast. The luncheon, free to anyone attending the festival, consists of Pazeh traditional dishes, set along the tables together with local Miaoli County’s Hakka and Hoklo cuisine.

“We organized the Pazeh festival to preserve our culture and our identity. It is also for elders to teach the traditions to the younger generation. Our effort is also to show Taiwan society that the traditions of the Pazeh are alive and well, so we request to be recognized as one of Taiwan’s [official] Indigenous groups,” said Pan Ta-chou (潘大州), head of the Miaoli Pazeh People Culture Association (苗栗縣巴宰族群協會).

He added, “We have elders still able to speak the Pazeh language. We hope to record and document this language. We have set up teaching programs, so our children are learning it in the village,” Pan said.

Pazeh is one of the 10 indigenous Lowland Pingpu People (the others are: Ketagalan, Taokas, Papora, Kahabu, Babuza, Hoanya, Siraya, Tavorlong and Makatao). Despite their demand for inclusion, the government has yet to officially recognize them.

How to get there:

By Car: National Highway No. 1, Sanyi Exit, onto Provincial Road No. 13. Drive toward the Liyutan Reservoir (鯉魚潭水庫) and follow the signs to Liyues Elementary School (鯉魚國民小學)

Public Transport and taxi: Take the train to Sanyi Station. From there ask rail station officers where to take a local bus to Luyutan School, or you can take a taxi from the rail station (roughly NT$200)