The Taichung City God’s birthday is celebrated every year during the sixth month on the lunar calendar. Last Saturday folk art performance troupes performed at an event for welcoming the City God in the Chenghuang community in the southern part of Greater Taichung. A lion dance troupe and an infernal general troupe performed dance formations for the City God’s inspection tour to start the event, warming up for the main ceremony to come.
The Taichung City God’s birthday is celebrated on the 15th day of the sixth lunar month (August 2 this year), which is when all the local devout worshippers come to worship the City God. The original Taichung City God Temple was built in the eastern part of the city by Liu Ming-chuan, the first governor of Taiwan Province, in 1889, giving the temple a mark of officialdom. When the Japanese took over control of Taiwan in 1895, the temple was occupied by the Japanese imperial army, and the City God deity circulated among local residents until 1922, when one of the local gentry named Lin Tzu-chin and others collected donations to rebuild the temple in the southern part of the city, allowing the deity to return to the temple for worship.
Taichung’s celebration of the City God’s birthday has been a lively local folk tradition since the late Qing Dynasty. The City God will also be taken around the city to patrol Taichung, an event traditionally called the Taichung City God Festival. Over the past several decades the festival was not held, though. It was not until last year that they started holding the event again, albeit on a much smaller scale. A documentary of the festival was made last year to record the event.
1. patrol v.
巡邏 (xun2 luo2)
例: The guards patrolled the border all night.
2. incense n.
例: The ancient Egyptians used incense to please the gods, drive away demons and mask unpleasant odors.
3. satisfactory adj.
圓滿的 (yuan2 man3 de5)
例: The trip was quite satisfactory.
Chenghuang Borough Chief Lin Bing-yi says that he hopes this event will evoke the memories of local residents living in the community, allowing the City God to patrol the city and become a representative part of the city’s local culture. That is why this year they are also holding the traditional ceremony known as the “night patrol.” First, a lion dance troupe, an infernal general troupe and a theater troupe perform to commence the ceremony, then a Taoist priest reads incantations to invoke the deity, and finally the deity’s palanquin is carried around the Chunghsiao Night Market area for an inspection of the city.
When the event commenced last Saturday, pious worshippers were undeterred by the torrential rain, and the entire ceremony turned out to be a lively scene indeed. According to custom, a large congregation of worshippers comes to the temple on the night of the 14th day of the sixth lunar month to make offerings and pray to the god. Taichung Mayor Jason Hu will be at the temple from 11pm until 1am on the 15th day of the sixth lunar month, leading the various district heads of Taichung in burning incense as offerings to the City God, and bringing the entire ceremony to a satisfactory close.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)