Mon, Aug 23, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Hakka culture shines in festival

CULTURAL PRESERVATION The annual festival, which commemmorates the death of more than 200 Hakka in 1786, included a worship ceremony, carnival, and contest

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

A woman worships the Hakka historical figure, Yimin, after preparing and leaving food on the table during a ceremony yesterday at the Hakka Yimin Festival in Taipei.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

A two-day Hakka cultural festival held by the Taipei City Government ended yesterday, with government officials reiterating their dedication to preserving the ethnic minority's culture.

The annual Taipei Hakka Memorial Ceremony culminated in a wash of color and noise as people flocked to the Taipei City Hall Square yesterday morning to attend a worship ceremony.

The ceremony, followed by a Hakka cultural carnival and singing contest at the City Hall Square, was presided over by Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Council for Hakka Affairs head Lou Wen-jia (羅文嘉) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Deputy Secretary-General Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), who is Hakka.

During the festival, Ma spoke in Hakka, asking the Yimin ancestors to guard over the country and its people, and beseeching the ancestors to grant the nation ethnic harmony and a united spirit.

RICH HISTORY

According to city representatives, the festival celebrates the memory of over 200 Hakka who died during revolts in 1786.

Taiwan's Hakka hold the festival during the seventh month of the lunar calendar each year, and there are Yimin temples in most Hakka cultural centers throughout the nation. The ceremony is also known for its unique custom of sacrificing "spirit pigs," which are traditional grown to a huge size before being slaughtered.

TEMPLE POSSIBLE

During their speeches, Luo and Wu asked Ma to have the city government provide land and funds for a Yimin temple in Taipei, pointing out that there are none in either Taipei City or Taipei County.

Saying that he was willing to work with the mayor during his remaining two years in office, Luo said that if Ma was willing to find land for a Yimin temple, the Council of Hakka Affairs would budget funds for its construction.

Ma replied, "There is a lot of national land in Taipei City, and I am willing to look for land to allocate to a temple from that land. However, the central and city governments need to work closely together to figure out funding for purchasing the land and for the temple's construction."

The ceremony this year was marked by the worship of nine sacred idols from Yimin temples around the country and a "spirit pig" contest, in which the public made fake pigs instead of actual sacrificing animals.

Taipei's Yimin ceremony is in its 16th year. This is the fifth year that Ma has participated, and Luo's first as council chairman.

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