The Kahabu people (also written as Kaxabu), one of the Pingpu Aboriginal tribes, will hold a festival in the Niumin (牛眠) community, on the outskirt of Puli Township (埔里), Nantou County, on Dec. 8. It will be an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in this group of Pingpu Aboriginals to learn something about their culture and traditional rituals.
“This event celebrates the New Year, according to our traditional lunar calendar,” said Aylian Hsiao (蕭愛蓮), secretary-general of the Kaxabu Culture and Education Association of Nantou County (南投縣噶哈巫文教協會), the festival’s main organizer.
“It is the most important festival for our Kahabu community. Family members return home to attend because it is full of joyful celebrations — with dance, music, entertainment and communal meals,” she told the Taipei Times.
Pingpu, or plains, refers to various Aboriginal groups living in lowland areas around the country that have adopted Han Chinese culture to different degrees, with many having lost their culture, language and ethnic identity.
Although they are also Aborigines, many Pingpu groups such as the Kahabu are not officially recognized as such because they didn’t register their ethnic identity in the 1950s.
“The festival is held so that we will not forget our history and our culture,” Hsiao said.
Hsiao said visitors are welcomed to join in, with events running from 10am to 9pm. In the morning, there will be guided tours of the community and the Kahabu Cultural Museum. The tours will also introduce the area’s newly-initiated agritourism projects.
The main events are in the afternoon, with traditional competitions of a short-marathon running race (走鏢), bow-and-arrow shooting and dexterity skill of splitting sugar cane with a traditional hunting knife.
The highlight is the traditional dance and music performance by Kahabu groups. Hsiao said this year’s roster of events include performances by other Pingpu groups: Pazeh, Tavorlong and Siraya.
The festival will culminate with a Kahavu Bonfire, where people will join hands and sing songs while walking around a large fire. The festival wraps up in the evening with a celebratory dinner with Kahabu community families.
“Everyone is welcomed to participate in the bonfire, the bigger the crowd to give better prospects for next year’s agricultural harvest,” Hsiao said.
Kuo-Kuang (國光客運) bus service departs from the Western Bus Terminal near Taipei Main Station, direct to Puli. A shuttle bus departs the Puli bus station on the hour, every hour from 7am to 3pm to the festival site.